Apr
21

On attendance, temperatures and April games

By

As I sat in the Terrace section of Yankee Stadium three weeks ago, I pondered the scene around me. For the second year in a row, I nabbed some tickets to the home opener, and while last year’s crowd celebrated the World Series ring ceremony on a sunny day in early spring, this year’s sparse crowd seemed more focused on huddling together to stay warm. With rain falling and highs reaching only 43 degrees, the weather seemed better suited to football than Opening Day.

Now, over the years, I’ve spent many a cold night at Yankee Stadium. I’ve sat through blistering winds in early May and chilly but crisp nights in late October. I’ve seen snow fall early in the season and have worn more layers than I care to count to the stadium. But on Opening Day, sitting there in three shirts, a sweater, a winter jacket and with a wool hat and gloves on, I said to myself, “No more.” Unless it’s Opening Day, I’d rather just wait until the weather is warmer.

Yet, last Friday and Saturday, when game-time temperatures were in the upper 40s, I again found myself at Yankee Stadium, bundled up to brave the cold. By the time the Yanks had won Saturday afternoon’s affair against the Rangers, I had spent around seven of the previous 22 hours in the cold at Yankee Stadium. I realize that was my choice, but it was a tough one. By the end of the second game, my friend Jay who also went to both games said he wasn’t sure he could keep going to these freezing games. It’s impossible to deny that the dog days of summer are much, much better for baseball than the rainy days of early April.

Somehow, though, the Yankees were scheduled for home games throughout April. Already, they’ve had 13 home games scheduled. Two have been rained out, and for two others, the team has offered to give fans make-goods for a future date because the weather was just that miserable. They end the month with six month home games, and luckily, temperatures may actually be in the upper 50s or low 60s then.

Meanwhile, baseball has been wringing its collective hands over attendance woes. CNBC’s Darren Rovell noted this week that attendance was down slightly across the board, but that a few teams — including the Yankees — had seen steep declines. Even though the Yanks are third in home attendance in the Majors right now, the current average — 41,685 — is nine percent lower than 2010′s per-game average.

The Yankees are blaming the weather, and I’m inclined to agree, at least in part. “The fact that we’ve had this early April schedule has hurt us,” Randy Levine said to ESPN New York. “Over the course of the season, we expect everything to equalize. But early on, the fact that the weather has been so bad [and] we’ve had so many games in April has hurt.”

On the other hand, though, a good number of partial season ticket holders have dropped their plans. The Yankees either cut benefits and postseason access from the plans or the costs became too high. The attendance issues too are reflected on the secondary market. It’s now possible to buy reasonably good seasons for well under $10 a pop. With markdowns so far below face value, supply is outstripping demand.

As we can’t yet draw too many statistical conclusions from the Yanks’ play, it’s also early to condemn the attendance numbers. But I’m comfortable saying the Yanks shouldn’t have 19 home games — or nearly 25 percent of their home slate scheduled — for before May 1. It’s not a secret that spring is a cold, wet time in the northeast, and baseball has plenty of warm-weather teams and domed stadiums to play host to most April games.

Despite my promises to myself, I’ll keep going to games, and I’ll keep bringing layers and gloves. I know we’ll be complaining about the heat in New York come mid-July, but these early April home games are a bit brutal. I don’t blame anyone for staying home. It’s much warmer on my couch, after all.

Categories : Rants
  • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

    Other things I think have attributed to the lack of attendance:

    - Lack of a big off-season acquisition (which, ironically, is probably why FO people wanted Soriano – too bad a reliever doesn’t really draw fans)

    -No premium games; the Red Sox and Rays haven’t been to NY yet.

    -Parking rate hike, it’s very unfriendly to NJ/upstate NY fans.

    -HD/3DTV becoming main stream, more incentive to stay home.

    Combine that with cruddy weather and I think this is what you get.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      - Lack of a big off-season acquisition (which, ironically, is probably why FO people wanted Soriano – too bad a reliever doesn’t really draw fans)

      I’ve thought about this a bit, but I’m not sure I agree. Which big-name free agent would drive attendance? Of the Yanks’ recent acquisitions, only A-Rod really did that, and a guy like Carl Crawford certainly wouldn’t. Maybe you could argue that a few more fans would have shown up to see Cliff Lee pitch had he made his way to New York, but I’m not sure it would have made a huge difference in those two or three games.

      • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

        Sabathia and Teixeira, I thought, created a lot of optimism for an organization that seemed to be on the verge of struggling.

        • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

          Well, that and it’s a brand-new stadium.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          They did, but they also arrived in 2009 with the new stadium when attendance was going to be high anyway. Tough to isolate those variables.

      • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

        I think it matters a lot to the casual fan. And we have to remember, the casual fans and people who gets tickets through business interests are the “swing voters” so to speak. The hardcore fan is going to go no matter what, its everyone else that are fickle and can be easily influenced by a big name being brought in.

    • The209

      I think the economy is a lot worse than whatever the numbers / reports are saying, too.

  • AnthonyD

    I agree with Ben on heavily discounting the weather factor. As a season ticketholder I have seen an incredible decrease in demand for April / early May tickets regardless of long tail weather conditions. Certain games weren’t worth going to (and my seats are covered) but the issue is also very expensive transportation costs for early baseball (little momentum gained) and lack of “newness” to the team or stadium at this point. I have had games I basically can’t even give away because there is no “juice” to the game and no one wants to go 40 mins on the 4/B/D ea way to sit in the cold, even if it’s nice, to spend a lot on concessions, to see the Orioles play in game 12 of a 162 game season.

    • AnthonyD

      I see Ross got a lot of the points first.

    • RL

      Let me know if you won’t be able to make the games on the 27th or 30th. Especially if you feel you mihgt not be able to “gove” the tickest away. Covered seeting might be just the thing for next Wednesday’s game.

      I’ll be in NY for college visits with my daughter and promised her a game.

  • Yank the Frank

    If attendance ratings and television ratings were declining at the same time would be cause for worry. With less people at the ballpark, I would guess that TV ratings are at least the same if not higher than last year.
    Last summer was brutally hot. I saw several games sitting in the bleachers where I almost died of heat stroke. For me coming from Long Island, it’s a big deal to go see agame in person. Factoring the costs and commute I’d rather be at home watching the game in HD.

  • http://Facebook.com/andrewjcalagna Drew

    Yeah I’ve sat through 2 rainouts so far, and the weather has been utterly miserable thus far but I’m still there. Curse my love for baseball and Section 200 tickets for $6. Asides from premium games, it’s conceivable that you can go to almost every game and get great seats for under $15. I still have my 20 game season ticket package, but Stubhub tells me I can sit closer for half the price of what I’m for my season tickets I can’t pass that up, even if there’s shitty weather.

  • Jonathah

    Way to man up and go to the games. A couple of hours of cold to get to see the Yankees is a pretty easy call. Who knows what you might see at the ballpark on any given day? My dad and 3 of his friends went to Chicago to see the Bulls in the playoffs in 98. On an off day my dad tried to talk his friends into going to see the Cubs play but it was kind of rainy so they decided to just go to a bar. Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters that day.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Besides the fact that you totally missed my point, it was 71 out and not raining on the day Kerry Wood struck out 20.

      • Will

        Also, Kerry Wood’s 20K game was on May 6th. Bulls and Hornets played Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on May 6th. Something doesn’t add up in that story.

        • Jonathah

          Ya it must have been because the Bulls game was a night game and the Cubs game was a day game. I was 12 when it happened so they must have gone to the bar before the Bulls game instead of going to see the Cubs game.

      • Jonathah

        so let’s see. I commend you on braving the weather to go watch the Yankees and somehow that’s bad? I understood your point but still was glad to see you sat through the rain to see the Yankees as I wish I had the chance to see them, rain or not. Not to mention you’re wrong about Kerry Wood. It rained off and on that day. Check the video.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

        • http://secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          Sorry. Thought you were mocking me for complaining about the cold.

          • Jonathah

            Definitely not. I’m from Kansas and in 09 the Royals redid Kauffman Stadium and opened with the Yankees so tickets were tough to come by. And during the last game it was about 35 and a complete downpour but we stayed through the entire thing. I know how much it sucks to sit through that; and not many fans do it. And to top it off Coke blows the game. That was so long ago Joba started the game and was throwing 96.

            • Jonathah

              The lineup that day:

              Gardner
              Jeter
              Swish
              Matsui
              Nady
              Cano
              Melky
              Ransom
              Molina

              Worst lineup I have ever seen them put out there in person

              • El Anonimo

                What, Tex did not play that game?

                • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

                  Without looking it up, I seem to remember that’s when Tex’s wife had his first or second child

                  • Jonathah

                    he actually had some sort of wrist injury that cost him like 4 or 5 games. And I think at some point Pena took over for Jeter. So at one point we had Ransom/Pena/Cano/Swisher/Molina as the infield (this was b4 robbie went nuts remember). And an OF of Melky/Gardner/Nady plus bad knees Matsui. And it still took a Marte/Coke implosion to lose the game.

  • Klemy

    I have to believe weather does play a role. I can’t say how much, but for me it matters going to any outside sport. I know when I was still buying season tickets for football, I always sold any games in December unless they were particularly interesting games with meaning. I can’t stand sitting in the cold or rain when I can sit warm on my couch.

    If I lived closer to NYC, I’d go to more games for sure. The closest games I have are Buffalo AAA games and unless SWB is in town, the weather has to be nice to go.

  • squishy jello person

    Weather, and the honeymoon period for the new stadium ending, are way up there, but I still think cost is the single biggest culprit.

    • Mike HC

      You said in one sentence what took me two paragraphs. I should have just read the comments and agreed with you, ha. It would have been easier.

  • Esteban

    I think some may be attributable to the fact that NY’s winter sports teams (Knicks and Rangers) are in the playoffs, which, in combination with the shitty weather we’ve had, has not put people in the mood for baseball yet.

    • Mike HC

      Good point. The excitement that is still surrounding the Knicks has definitely prevented me and I’m sure many others from putting their sole sports focus on the Yanks. And the last couple of years, er, decade, the Knicks have been meaningless.

  • AnthonyD

    Weather is a factor, but part of the problem is there is no perceived scarcity of tickets – hence for the average fan, the idea that they can pick and choose when they can go. If ticket price is not the main cost of going – is the average person going to go to what he or she perceives as a non-desirable product with an abundance of supply? As Drew stated, the level of ticket dumping for non-premium games is incredible and folks aren’t going to make the trip, shell out for public transit and parking + food and beers for early season games that seem unimportant (note I’m saying this is perception). I think this trend will continue, to some degree until the weather gets a lot nicer and the season matures (obviously those events coincide).

  • Mike HC

    I’m sure there are many factors, but I think the most important factor was the exorbitant price hike when the new stadium opened. It was ok year one because everyone wanted to get to the new stadium regardless of price. But after that, it has been all downhill.

    Even if in reality prices have come down a bit and it is possible to find a good seat at a fair price, the perception among many fans is that the games are just getting too expensive, and it is no longer worth it. Add in travel, paying for parking and the expensive food and drinks, and people are just showing up less and less.

    • KeithK

      You’re on to something. In 2009 everyone wanted to go to the new stadium so even with high ticket prices you had very good attendance (aside form the $1000+ seats). In 2010 you had the championship effect working to help attendance. it might be that this year we will come closer to the “equilibrium” attendance levels for the new stadium with the new price levels. With the prices they’re charging and the lower number of cheap seats I don’t think they could sell 50k seats a game like they did in the old building.

      Of course, as with everything be wary of small sample sizes. We’ll have a better read on things come the end of the season.

    • Dino Velvet

      It was ok year one because everyone wanted to get to the new stadium regardless of price. But after that, it has been all downhill.
      —————————————————

      Good point

  • Dino Velvet

    So what accounts for the decline in attendance in warm areas?

    • AnthonyD

      Since most of the posts have insinuated weather isn’t the sole factor, I’d assume a combination of price and other entertainment options. Also, the stadiums of the 90s/00s ballpark Renaissance are starting to age and are not an attraction in and of themselves anymore.

      • Dino Velvet

        yeah, but why this year and not last year

        • AnthonyD

          Curious how many home games the draws (e.g. the Yankees/Cubs/Cardinals) have played versus road vs previous years during the same period. I do think there is a downward trend in general and you also have some BAD situations right now in terms of fan turn out like the Mets and Indians.

  • RL

    Way too many spelling mistakes to even try to correct them all.

    • RL

      Now a reply fail!

  • Jeers

    I think a lot of season ticket holders took a beating on Stubhub last season and just said no to 2011.

    I wish I did.

    Im also very tired of dealing with the security staff at the stadium. They don’t show an ounce of common sense.

    • AnthonyD

      +1

    • Dino Velvet

      I wish I did.
      ——————-

      Why, are you taking a beating on stubhub this year, as well?

      • AnthonyD

        You get killed if you try and sell your tix and get anything of value for them. Tix are ~80% off quite often. Not that the objective is to make money, but there is literally no demand to go, never mind pay for, early season tickets.

        • Dino Velvet

          really? seriously? 80% off?

          you mean if you sell a ticket with a $100 face value, the best you can hope for is $20 bucks online?

          • AnthonyD

            Not the best, but for games like BAL and MIN early April plus the factors we mentioned games are literally selling for $8 ($50 face) – not taking into account SH’s 15% commission. I don’t bother listing at that point because I’d rather give them to a family member, friend, colleague etc and eat the cost.

            • Dino Velvet

              I just clicked on stubhub and I see what the problem is: supply is too high. there are 8600 tickets for sale for next weeks game versus the white sox. That’s approx 20% of average game attendance. If you got a glut of supply then prices will fall.

              • AnthonyD

                Yeah this is what I was alluding to earlier, that there is no scarcity – perceived or otherwise. They actually have a good amount of season and partial season subscribers – but no one can go to every game and if you’re a season subscriber you’d rather save your bullets for nicer days, games against premium teams, etc. In theory there should be a market for tickets, even at 50% off because a lot of families can’t go to games for regular price, but the added cost of parking + concessions + the time commitment makes the ticket price a secondary concern and everyone knows there will be availability all year, even if it’s a little less availability.

  • Yankeegirl49

    I have been to 4 Yankee games and one Met game (free tix) so far this season. It’s been raining, freezing or both for all of the games. I said after the 3rd freezing night, that next year, other than opening day, I will wait till May or June to start going to games. While I love being there, I can’t enjoy it as much when Im uncomfortable and find myself caring more about it being a quick game than the actual game itself. I go to between 20-30 games a year, I can wait a month…

    • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

      There is never an excuse to go to a Mets game, ever.

      I’m surprised MLB took over the Dodgers and not them.

      • Dino Velvet

        I’m thinking the Mets manager gets replaced by June 1st

      • Esteban

        Eh Citi’s about 20 minutes walking from my house and super cheap games, I could be convinced to go. BUT, I still haven’t been to Citi.

  • Dino Velvet

    CNBC’s Darren Rovell noted this week that attendance was down slightly across the board,
    ———————————————-
    these numbers are inaccurate. I don’t blame CNBC, they’re only working with data they’re given, but teams are announcing the amount of tickets sold as “attendance”, but not announcing the amount of “no-shows” like they do in football. “Attendance” in this context is an obvious misnomer: buying a ticket and not showing up does not meet the definition of attending a game.

    • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

      I got yo money, I don’t care.

  • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

    It’s the economy, stupid!

    No offense.

    • Dino Velvet

      if it was the economy, then attendance would have suffered the last two years.

  • nsalem

    I think the problem is more than the weather. I was at the Oriole game last week on a fairly warm night. My seats are in section 420. The entire upper deck wseemed flled as well as the bleachers and most sections where the price point was $75 or under. All $100 and up sections seemed bare. The conclusion
    I draw is that there is a limite amount of people who want to pay $100 and up to see a baseball game.

    • AnthonyD

      I was there that night, it was awesome weather, the Knicks were playing their final game at home, which was totally meaningless against CHI and my section was pretty sparse. My tix are $50 ea.

    • Dino Velvet

      Not in new york. Most of those seats are bought up by multinationals and financial firms who use them to entertain fat cat clients.

      • AnthonyD

        I actually disagree with this – in my experience people don’t buy $100 or so tickets for client entertainment. Legends seats, champions seats, H&R block level, delta and right behind the plate / bw the bases are all client entertainment level and they are min $250. I think there is actually a void in the $150 or so range for individual fans, but if the team starts discounting the $125/175 tickets, it will have a trickle down on the rest of the pricing structure.

        The Yankee ticket pricing is really awful, not just because it’s expensive, but because of the seemingly random nature of price breaks, etc. Seats 5 to the left of me in the next section are $65 per seat, where as mine are $50 per seat. A 30% increase.

  • Neil

    I’ve got a friend who wanted to buy a 41 game plan in the Terrace 316. On their web site Yankees list these as available for the 41 game plan but they would only sell it to him as a full season plan. They would rather sell them for individual games then as a 41 game plan?

  • http://bigleaguewiffleball.com/ Jon

    Tickets are expensive and this certainly contributes to lack of attendance. Tickets need to be made more affordable for families and the ballpark will fill up.

  • Mooch

    Bad weather, expensive tickets, and the three headed monster of Colon, Garcia, and Nova are not very enticing. Though I personally like developing players rather than acquiring them, the way the pricing structure is set up means the Yanks will always need to go after big names. The real hard core fans are being priced out while the wishy washy fans need an impetus to go. The stadium is a morgue. People in the good seats doing nothing but playing on their phones.

    Only a matter of time before they trade for a big name starter. Hopefully it’s at least someone real good like Felix or Josh Johnson.

    • Poopy Pants

      Also, the people in the good seats are probably with corporations who don’t give a shit about the team. They spend their time playing on their phones or walking around or most likely…don’t show up at all. It looks terrible on TV. That’s what happens when you fuck your fans for some extra cash.

  • Poopy Pants

    Does ‘crappy weather’ keep Sox fans at home?

    • Dino Velvet

      but they’re drunk, so they don’t notice the weather.

      plus, when they’re not robbing banks there’s nothing for the townies to do but attend a game.

      • AnthonyD

        Sox comparison is awful. Fenway is in the middle of a beer garden, Yankee Stadium is in the So Bronx. If you put YS in TriBeCa or something equally implausible surrounded by a ton of bars you’d have insane demand

        • Dino Velvet

          …. and if you took away Broadway shows, and if you took away all the restaurants, and if you took away all the music venues, and if there was only one baseball team in the city…. etc., etc., so that there was only one major entertainment attraction in the the whole town (like Boston)….

          • AnthonyD

            Yeah exactly – it’s apples and oranges. And if you made the tickets cheaper. And if everyone talked like a jerk

            • Mike HC

              haha

  • Tony S

    no way I sit thru a cold day. If I have to wear more than a t-shirt – I’m staying home & watching from the warm home on HD.