Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A New Record!

Congratulations go out to Stan Kasten, the Lerner family, and the entire Washington Nationals organization! Last night, they set the modern MLB record for smallest crowd in the second game of a new facility. Let's give 'em a round of applause!

20,487 is the lowest, and it's not just because of the weather or because of the night, or the opponent.

Detroit drew 21,405 in their second game in 44 degree weather. First pitch for the Nats game was 50 degrees. The worst weather goes to Cleveland, which drew 34,087 to their second game, despite 45 degree temps. 36,420 Fans of the Chicago White Sox braved 42 degree temps and 20 MPH winds for their second game. The only other game in the 50s temperature-wise was the one in Philly (55 degrees), which drew 37,512 robust souls.

Every other franchise's second game (going back to the opening of SkyDome) drew more than 39,000 fans for their second game.

Other excuses? Want lousy opponents? How 'bout the Brewers? They've been the opponent for three second games, with an average attendance of 43,874.

Want other weeknight games? Other than those aforementioned Detroit (wednesday night) and Cincinnati (wednesday night)crowds, the next lowest goes to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates and their 35,045.

Anyway you slice it, the Nats are at the bottom, joining other dreg franchises like Detroit and Cincinnati. We've got plenty of castoffs from the latter. We better pray for a resurgence like the former. Meanwhile, we're getting the attendance we deserve, as Mr. Kasten assured us we would.


  • Chris -

    In fairness, if you look at the week that separated the opener and the 2nd game, that is likely a factor. While the Pirates had 30K+ for their first three games, they returned home to 20,128 v. the Astros. It might be a more apt comparison, but still mediocre.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 11:43 AM  

  • OK, that's fair, I guess.

    But think of it in this term:

    You're rationalizing that it's ok to have a result like this based on what the Pittsburgh Pirates -- the franchise that epitomizes suckiness -- did.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/08/2008 11:45 AM  

  • You could not be more right, and it is depressing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 11:55 AM  

  • I would say that the week of interim time did have an effect in this situation that wouldn't have been at play in the other situations. Likely when game #2 follows right on the heel of game #1, fans who miss out on getting tix for the Grand Opening game might go to the second game as sort of a consolation prize. But with a week in between the two games, that "new stadium smell" has worn off, and it's just another game. Since you're into digging up arcane attendance and weather stats, how about a comparison of attendance at game one of the second homestand with game one of the season for new ballparks? Might there be more of a dropoff there?

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 4/08/2008 12:11 PM  

  • Possible.

    Go to town.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/08/2008 12:12 PM  

  • While in a previous post I provided one rationale for why the attendance may have been low, I also believe that Stan the Man should've forseen this issue and promoted the game with some gimmick or giveaway.

    On the positive side, though the game was in HD, it competed with the NCAA tourney so not everyone is probably fully appreciative of the empty stands.

    By Blogger OleShu, at 4/08/2008 12:13 PM  

  • All the factors discussed, including the delay between games 1 and 2, are relevant, but even given all that we should have done better.

    But blame Bud Selig and MLB, not Kasten or Bowden. It's their fault that we inherited a completely destroyed franchise.What would our attendance be if we had Grady in center, Vladdy in left, Brandon Phillips at 2B and Pedro pitching opening night?

    These are Gordon Gecko-style corporate raiders, and we basically inherited Eastern Airlines, circa 1992.

    By Blogger Steven, at 4/08/2008 12:38 PM  

  • For comparison sake, the Reds drew 42k on opening night, and didn't draw 30k again until May 8th, the 19th game at GAB.

    And Cincinnati at least has a reputation of being a good baseball town. This team is still not very good, it was a weeknight with horrendous weather, and we were playing the Fish.

    And yes, this means that we're comparing them to the Pirates or Reds, but like the poster above said, it's not entirely the Lerners or Kasten's fault. You can't repair a franchise over night.

    Is their cause for concern? I would say a bit, sure. But let's see how it plays out over the summer before drawing too many conclusions.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 12:55 PM  

  • I think the biggest reason is that each of those other teams had significant histories in those towns, and that those towns had histories with baseball. Neither is the case here and those are big challenges for the Nats. New stadium or not, the Nats just aren't a part of the life of the town in the way the Sox, Pirates, or Tigers are. They will be when they win. Sounds like Kasten knows that and the challenge is to get a team that will win (and thus, put butts in the seats).

    As a dedicated fan, this is a win-win for me. Good seats for cheap now to get my heart broken by two (count 'em!) sets of bases loaded wasted, and a winning team for the future.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 12:59 PM  

  • I think the low attendance is a problem, as is the fact that at least 1/4 of the people at opening day were gone by the 6th inning. But, I think a huge part of that is because of the transportation fears.

    I tried to give away tickets to the game last night, and someone I used to go to games at RFK told me he wouldn't go until all of the transportation problems are fixed. So, the news this morning leads off with "last night wasn't a test because of low attendance" and "Wednesday is a test because of the soccer and basketball games on the same night". That's not a test for Nationals Park Transportation -- that's a test for the entire DC transportation infrastructure to have 3 major events on the same night. But, people are not going to brave cold and rainy weather to see two crappy teams play when they don't know how long it will take to get there, or more importantly, to get home on a work/ school night.

    By Blogger Natsfan74, at 4/08/2008 1:03 PM  

  • This blog entry, and the one preceding it, are about as valid as projecting the Orioles to be best team in the AL based on their first two series. Why the rush to judgment? Why not let the first month or two play out, so as to eliminate night-to-night variations, then compare it to previous springs. Is that too much to ask?

    Also, I know this isn't BP and you're trying to inject a little humor, but doing side-by-sides of individual factors like weather, weekend/weekday, quality of opponent, time between first and second games, etc. (not to mention ignoring the NCAA title game, a large factor in my own decision to stay home) simply isn't fair. Attendance numbers were affected by these factors cumulatively, not indivually.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 1:11 PM  

  • I'm not drawing any conclusions about DC as a baseball team from it.

    Truthfully, I'm optimistic in that the fans aren't falling for the bill of goods the Lerners and Kasten are trying to sell us. It's a shitty team in a new (but not jaw-dropping) stadium with no history and no reason to think they're going to be good.

    Why SHOULD the fans come out?

    They didn't, and that's a good thing. It's going to make the team have to actually work to bring people in, putting a winning team on the field.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/08/2008 1:13 PM  

  • I know teams don't reveal the turnstile numbers but there is absolutely no way that there more than 8000 people there last night. No way. That's just for informational purposes. No real point.

    Stan came down and sat in section 128 in the top of the 3rd. Redding kept getting killed and after the Hanley HR there was a fairly loud chorus of boos. Stan proceeded to leave. Your 2008 Nationals pitching staff!

    The attendance really doesn't bother me. Everyone knew DC wasn't a baseball town going in to this and everyone knew the Nationals were not going to be good - again - this year. If and when the team eventually is good enough to compete, the fans will come, but I can't in good faith expect casual fans to join me on a weekday, in terrible weather, to watch the Marlins.

    That's not meant to sound bitter. I genuinely enjoy watching Milledge and Zimmerman amd like the direction the Nationals have taken, I just don't think anyone should be fooled in thinking that this team is anywhere close to the playoffs.

    By Blogger RPS, at 4/08/2008 1:21 PM  

  • I came, I sat, I froze. Saw really bad baseball. Stayed to the bitter end. But the good news was there was a metro train at the station when I got there and when I transferred to the orange line, one was waiting there, too. So the trip home was only 30 minutes compared to the 50 minutes from RFK.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 1:41 PM  

  • Has the team done any marketing that actually focusses on the baseball team, rather than just, "Come see the new stadium?" Yes, the team isn't very good, but it does have some young, potentially exciting, players. But you wouldn't know by the Nats' marketing efforts. It's all, "Come see Nationals Park." And with the horror stories about transportation, is it any wonder that people are figuring to wait until it's comfortable outside to make the trek.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 2:19 PM  

  • That is a good point Simon, for all the talk of Zimmerman as the face of the franchise - where is that face?

    Asside from ads on MASN you just don't see much real marketing around the city. Spend some money to promote the team and you'll see results.

    Problem is you don't want fans getting attached to players who will be gone soon...Sorry Paul, Nick, Ronnie, Christian, Austin, Chad and Tim....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 2:48 PM  

  • Actually, the Nats' marketing efforts to this point have been "Come, buy a full season plan at Nationals Park. Plans start at only $10 per game but the vast majority of them are waaaay more overpriced than that." (Hey, Chris, sorry I forgot to ask your permission before employing the StanSpeak translator.) And I think this has been Stan's biggest mistake. He has misoverestimated the demand for full season ticket plans, which would be true no matter how good or bad the product on the field is. He continues to misoverestimate that demand and is marketing to it rather than to the smaller plan or single game buyers, who might actually bite at some of the too-high-priced tickets, since it's much easier to overpay for one or a few games than it is to overpay for 81. Stan is probably thinking he can get the STH full-season equivalent back up to the 22,000 or more it was back in 2005, but that ain't gonna happen. 2005 was like the California Gold Rush for season tickets. Lots of speculators scooped them up, thinking they'd either be able to resell tickets from them at a profit or create season-ticket groups to use them up. But that approach only works if the stadium is sold out or near sold out every game. When that didn't happen in 2005, the casual season ticket speculators dropped out, leaving only real fans or fan groups and professional resellers in the season ticket holder base. Last season with the "get priority in the new park" campaign and on into this spring Stan has attempted to sell full season plans to whoever's left out there that might buy one, to the virtual exclusion of any other type of ticket buyer. (The shafting of 20-game plan holders in the relocation is but one symptom of that.) I would think that by now Stan would have realized that he has maxed out the market for selling full season plans, and he needs to start focusing his energies toward marketing the individual games and smaller-scale plans. Until he does that, last night's low attendance will reoccur like the backwash of a Ben's Half Smoke All the Way any time the conditions on a particular night are less than optimal.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 4/08/2008 3:10 PM  

  • When you're not trolling, some of the things you say actually make sense! :)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/08/2008 3:13 PM  

  • You're mischaracterizing me, Chris. I only troll on Nats320. You guys just don't understand me is all...

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 4/08/2008 3:32 PM  

  • No surprise. Season ticket sales where lousy despite the new ball park. Ticket prices are outrageously expensive, the location of the ball park is lousy and the team sucks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 3:53 PM  

  • I just hope we'll see a drop in ticket prices. I can't see them doing it this year. That would mean they've conceded defeat.

    I hate to make this comparison, but I think we're on the same level as the Pirates. Both struggling teams with new(er) ballparks.

    Pirates outfield ticket prices: $14-17.
    Upper deck seat prices: $9-16

    Being a student, I don't have the financial wherewithal to purchase a plan. What I found so appealing about games at RFK was the price. For 10-15 games a summer, I'd spend $50-75. At the new park, that same amount of money would buy me 5 or 6 games.

    The whole appeal of a "new ballpark" won't have much appeal next year, when it's no longer a new ballpark. They need to come up with a way to keep the people coming. The PLAN is still a couple years from fruition, so unless the Lerners open their pocketbooks and buy some appeal with new players, lower ticket prices are the only other option.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 4:18 PM  

  • They need to drop prices everywhere except the $60 lower seats (of which I'm a 1/4 share season holder). You shouldn't be sitting in the OF stands and paying any more than 20.

    So what's everyone's prediction for Wed night? I say 24,000.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 5:21 PM  

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/jondeutsch/2393708760/sizes/l/

    lets face it: this is a crappy sports town.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 5:34 PM  

  • Well, at least the concessions were better run last night.

    Oh, they weren't?

    My bad.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 7:24 PM  

  • Ed, I'm not sure I understand your point.

    Attendance at that game was reported at 20,161. I believe United has averaged the highest attendance in the league almost every year (LA and Toronto had higher numbers last year for obvious reasons).

    The Mystics (I know it's a stretch) led the league in attendance for six of their ten years of existence.

    And when was the last time a Redskins game didn't sell out?

    Washington is a great sports city, we just like having a decent team to root for.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 7:52 PM  

  • "And when was the last time a Redskins game didn't sell out?"

    If they had to include the club seats in their count, the Redskins wouldn't have sold out any of their games for some time - at least several years now. But for the purposes of determining whether or not home games have to be blacked out on TV, those seats don't count. The long waiting list for season tickets? Non-existent if you want to buy club level seats. Since I became a Nats 20-game plan holder, I get regular mailings from the Redskins offering me the chance to buy club seats. Before I got those Nats tickets, the Redskins had never heard of me.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 4/08/2008 9:30 PM  

  • ok, so the nats suck, the lerners suck, and a whole lot of other things suck too. What do you want to do about it? Go to baltimore? Trust me, that sucks more.

    There's criticism, and there's whining.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 9:57 PM  

  • The biggest myth in Washington -- besides people thinking John McCain is a maverick -- is that the Redskins are a tough ticket. There are literally thousands of Skins tix available every game.
    As for Monday night, it's April, two crap teams playing bad baseball in a lower-tier sports town on the night of the NCAA championship. O/U on Wednesday's crowd: 22,222. Any more and they're padding it. I agree with RPS: I was there Monday night and there weren't more than 10,000 folks actually in their seats. Plus, there was seats on the Metro.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 10:03 PM  

  • Congrats to Capitol Punishment for joining the media bandwagon of incessant negativity surrounding everything about this club since it was announced that it would move. The stadium will never get built, the stadium will be behind schedule and over budget, The stadium is ugly, the lines are too long, the Lerners are cheap, there will be no parking, the metro won't work, the magnetic schedules will destroy metro cards. You know it's quite possible that all this bad media have had the greatest influence on keeping fans away.

    Just hit unsubscribe from Bloglines. Wallow it in without me.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 10:20 PM  

  • Well, if you think that I'm JUST joining the negative chorus of media outlets that want the team to fail and move back to Montreal, obviously you haven't been reading for very long! I've got YEARS of this stuff!

    Anyway, I don't see much (other than the mocking intro, but then I've never been above the occasional cheap shot) to object to here. It's basically a recitation of facts. You might not like the circumstances of the facts, but it doesn't change them, and it doesn't make talking about them 'being negative'. Aim some of that anger at the people truly responsible for it: The team's leadership.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/08/2008 10:38 PM  

  • Yes, it's the team's leadership that's responsible for magnets destroying Metro farecards. Damn those Lerners for being too cheap to devise a solution that defies the laws of physics!

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 4/08/2008 11:16 PM  

  • Is it the Lerners' fault or the fault of the DC area fans? I've been a Nats/Spos fans since I was little and I understood when the Montreal crowds stopped showing up for games after the strike destroyed the best team of the 90s. What's the Nats' fans excuse? Bad team? Well they aren't that bad. Get out to the freakin' game. Try living no closer than 3 1/2 hours from the nearest, and crappiest team (the Royals), you should value MLB, no matter how bad.

    JT in Nebraska

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/08/2008 11:42 PM  

  • An old time baseball guy, highly placed in MLB, told me that attendance is a function of regional income and wins. Obviously we have the regional income here.

    Recently a friend cut through a lot of it when he said that he's waiting to go until the team gets interesting.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/09/2008 8:31 AM  

  • That's exactly it.

    If they had a winning team out there, the fans would show up.

    They don't, so we don't.

    Easy formula. They understand it, hence the "attendance we deserve" mantra.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/09/2008 8:34 AM  

  • I think the last "eddc" comment and Chris's repsonse should be taken with the earlier discussion about ticket prices. I think the Nats have inflated single game ticket prices to make the season ticket packages look like a bargain by comparison. The Nats are assuming that people are willing to pay 32% more (52% for a "premium" game) for a seat that is going to be worse than the season ticket holder's seat. My guess is the Nats will begin offering weekday ticket discounts for walkups and lame matchups (d-backs and fish come to mind). Can't sell $7.50 beer to people outside the gates.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/09/2008 9:04 AM  

  • My guess is the Nats will begin offering weekday ticket discounts for walkups and lame matchups (d-backs and fish come to mind).

    They're already doing this. There's a "Walk Up Wednesday" promotion with the WaPo where you come to the box office on Wednesday with the masthead from that day's Post and you get five bucks off on any seat going for $24 or more. (Does a $42 outfield seat look any more attractive to you, Chris?) I believe I've also caught wind of some "buy one, get one free" promotions. But none of these deals are being promoted much, if at all. I saw an ad in the Post the other day with details of the Wednesday deal, but that's about it. Right now, the focus is (as I said upthread) entirely on selling season packages.

    But, as I also said earlier, that's a pipe dream on Stan's part. Svrluga in his article this morning about Tavares et al had a statement that those guys "built" a season ticket base of 22,500 that then dwindled and has now been brought back up to 18,000 by Kasten. That's a misleading interpretation of what really happened. Tavares et al were basically handed a season ticket base of 22,500 that included a lot of people thinking that Nats tickets would be the hot item in town and they could ride an 81-game plan to big bucks. That didn't happen in year one, so the casual speculators cut their losses and bailed. The media would have us believe that the dropoff of 5,000 full-season equivalents after the first year was due to uncertainty over who the owner would be, DC Council hijinks, and lack of payroll that would indicate improvement on-field would be coming soon. But all those same factors were in play before 2005, and they didn't stop people from buying plans then. Hell, no one knew who any of those Expos were, but it didn't stop them from buying season tickets. Many of those tickets were bought solely because they were thought to be the hot investment at the time. I would say about 5000 FSEs were bought for that reason. Those people aren't coming back, so Stan's challenge now is to really build the season ticket base to its max. I would think it has to be about there at this point, although apparently he doesn't realize it.

    There are two ways to build attendance over the course of a season. The automatic way is to sell season tickets and then just watch the numbers pile up as each game rolls by. The 2005 Nats were lucky that they got their 2.7M basically handed to them via that route. But that ain't gonna happen again. Attendance needs to be built game by game. On-field performance helps with that (just ask the Caps), but since on-field performance can't be guaranteed there needs to be heavy single-game or single-series marketing behind it to also attract potential fans' attention. It's a high-intensity marketing operation that needs to happen. Susan O'Malley did it with the Wiz for years. Stan isn't doing it, but I don't think it's because the Lerners are too cheap or anything like that. I think he honestly believes he won't need to do it that way. But he's wrong about that.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 4/09/2008 10:10 AM  

  • Bill James once wrote that people will go to ballgames for two reasons: baseball, and free stuff. If the club isn't going to promote the baseball aspect, it's going to have to find some sponsors to put on more promotions. Oh, and not make them "premium" games either.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/09/2008 10:17 AM  

  • Those two things, SOL, and Fernando Valenzuela. He concluded fans would come out to see Fernando.

    I see a promotion!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/09/2008 10:48 AM  

  • You guys are all missing the biggest factor: The recession, the recession, the recession (oh, and don't forget gas prices).

    I am willing to bet that as this season wears on, attendance will be down all over baseball. If gas goes over $4 or even $5 this summer, the dropoff will be dramatic.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/09/2008 12:54 PM  

  • My biggest gripe is the empty seats behind home plate. In my mind those people have a responsibility to show up. Even with a decent crowd in the stadium, if those high rollers don't bother to come, or are sitting inside, that camera angle from behind the pitcher makes it look even worse. Come On! Show up! Or donate your tix to someone who will!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/11/2008 11:20 AM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/16/2009 10:43 PM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/11/2009 4:53 AM  

  • By Blogger Blogger.jinbo, at 6/07/2009 8:49 PM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/21/2009 10:50 PM  

  • Truely a nice blog and thanks for your great work. By the way,welcom to our websites: nshoxsportandEd Hardy.the nike max ltd is really good nike air jordan shoes ,don’t forget buy the puma mens shoes and puma shoes by the internet when you need them . Do you know cheap nike shox is a best cheap nike shoes. another kinds of air jordan is better . For example , cheap adidas shoes is good and nike air max .the nike shox shoes is fitting to running.

    edhardyis the world famouse clothing brand famouse for the mens edhardy shirt , mens edhardy jacket ,mens edhardy shirt ,mens edhardy jeans,womens edhardy boots ,women long sleeve shirt,ed hardy accessories ,edhardy clothing,edhardy sunglasses,edhardy womens bags

    By Anonymous adidas predator, at 10/14/2009 3:07 AM  

  • I'm so glad to read it, to be honest, your blog is the best I've ever read.
    Lately, I want to buy excellent prince tennis rackets, I look about many shops, where sell perfect tennis racquet. Meanwhile, I also want to buy the top-grade head tennis racket, I surf the net very often, and finally, I find thistennis store.
    By the way, do you know ralph lauren clothing? Do you want to be a focus no matter wherever you go? You can chase the most popular red polo shirts. you will be the most fashionable person wherever you go only if you wear attactive ralph lauren clothes.
    Would you want to attracte others' eyes? If your answer is "Yes", you can wear north face jackets, in this beautiful season, you really need a suit of ralph lauren polo shirts
    . They can make you become the attactive person.
    top prince tennis racquets
    classic head tennis racquet
    superior wilson tennis racquets
    babolat tennis racquets
    head tennis racquets
    babolat racquets
    wilson tennis racquet
    Abercrombie Fitch polo shirt
    Abercrombie Fitch hoodile
    charming north face jackets
    polo woman shirt
    lauren polo long sleeves shirts
    cheap ralph lauren vest
    polo men's jacket
    yellow polo women's jacket
    striped polo shirts
    ralph lauren polo shirt
    Ralph Lauren womens clothes
    Lauren Polo pants
    ralph lauren womens shirt
    Ralph Lauren mens hoodies
    polo shirt red

    By Anonymous tennis racket, at 10/14/2009 9:37 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home