September 18, 2002
The Daily Prospectus
Bud and Carl: Visionaries?
I wonder if I write any better when God's Percussionist is within 800 feet of my house... probably not, but it can't hurt.
Got hit with an interesting question yesterday; how come people aren't coming out to see the Minnesota Twins? Didn't Carl Pohlad and Bud Selig basically state that due to the inherent limitations of the Twin Cities as a generator of local broadcast revenue, the Twins should be contracted? Fans and pundits quickly responded with "Hey, put a winning team out there, poindexter, and the fans'll show up."
Well, the Twins did their part, blowing the AL Central open like a 30.06 round through an overripe cantaloupe. The Twins have been successful and exciting. Have the fans held up their end of the bargain?
Here's the attendance at the HHH dome since the All-Star Break:
Thu. 11 Texas 18,144 Fri. 12 Texas 25,804 Sat. 13 Texas 28,352 Sun. 14 Texas 22,610 Mon. 15 Anaheim 19,189 Tue. 16 Anaheim 26,258 Fri. 26 Toronto 25,049 Sat. 27 Toronto 40,306 Sun. 28 Toronto 30,554 Tue. 30 Chicago 27,391 Wed. 31 Chicago 29,478 August Thu. 1 Chicago 26,270 Fri. 2 Kansas City 23,230 Sat. 3 Kansas City 32,567 Sun. 4 Kansas City 35,641 Mon. 5 Kansas City 27,281 Tue. 13 Baltimore 20,268 Wed. 14 Baltimore 28,488 Thu. 15 Baltimore 20,471 Fri. 16 Boston 35,824 Sat. 17 Boston 43,345 Sun. 18 Boston 37,196 Tue. 27 Seattle 28,660 Wed. 28 Seattle 31,414 Thu. 29 Seattle 29,325 September Fri. 6 Oakland 27,409 Sat. 7 Oakland 43,628 Sun. 8 Oakland 20,102 Mon. 9 Detroit 11,684 Tue. 10 Detroit 12,408 Wed. 11 Detroit 13,106
That's an average of 27,144 per game since the break. Not bad, but not earthshaking by any means. Over the course of a full season, if that's an average gate, total attendance would be right at 2.2 million for the season.
Success on the field definitely drives attendance, and hence revenue, but there does appear to be a lag time. It's a demanding cycle at the very least. Succeed now, and you'll be rewarded with increased season ticket sales for next year, but if you crap out early next season, attendance during the second half will almost certainly be nothing shy of dismal. In short, it takes patience and sustained effort to get those fans in the door. Even when you succeed on the field, there are marketing efforts that need to be made, and a lag time before you actually see the cash. But if you start to decline, people will bail out quickly, and you have to pay the price to get them back again.
Some of the depression in attendance is almost certainly due to the labor clouds that hung over the horizon for much of the year. Hopefully, with a boost in performance, a new emphasis on promoting the game, and no threat of a work stoppage, teams like the Twins, A's, and Angels will see an increase in attendance and revenue next season. I'd love to see each of those clubs draw 3 million people to the park. Hopefully, with careful attention to pricing optimization, and a full accounting of the lifetime value of a customer, we'll see a new golden age of baseball attendance.
Of course, the Twins may be at a disadvantage because of the need to schedule the Tigers a bunch of times, but no system's perfect.