Baseball attendances – is the decline irreversable?
In baseball scoreboards news, we will look at the slow but gradual decline of baseball in the US. What is going on and why?
The San Diego Padres played the first of four games against the Chicago Cubs recently. The Cubs are undoubtedly a popular franchise nationwide, so much so that sometimes they bring more fans to an apposing stadium than the home team. However, according to the baseball scoreboards, the Petco Park stadium on a perfect baseballing evening drew just 22,800 supporters, which is less than 55% of the stadium’s capacity.
On the same night, the Tampa Bay Rays stadium was only 35% full, and this is a team that is ½ up on the Yankees with the American League East season almost at a close. The Rays have an indoor stadium, so the weather does not affect the number of fans attending.
Some people may point to the economic reasons behind the poor attendance figures: tickets are expensive, and people don’t have so much money any more. However, if the Padres and Rays attracted so few fans in the last week of the season with the championship on the line, where does that leave them in a time when payrolls can be higher than $100 million per annum?
Gradually, baseball seems to be declining in the US. This drop in attendances is small, but it is consistent. Baseball is not just suddenly going to fall off the radar in the US, but generation by generation things are moving in a negative direction for the sport. Many parents would rather watch the game on TV or do something completely different, then spend hundreds of dollars taking the family to see a game, knowing that the players care little other than how much they are getting paid.
Measures have been taken to improve the presentation of the game within the stadium, such as video, music, and various conveniences. What this has led to is a generation of fans who do not know that much about the game, but who have been lured into watching it by all the frills. Baseball is effectively a slow and complex game that requires an in depth knowledge of the tactics and formations of the game to truly appreciate it. This level of appreciation has been dumbed down by the all the bells and whistles surrounding the game now.
Of-course, the slow pace and long spaces between highlight moments can be difficult even amongst the most knowledgeable of fans. The nature of baseball for many is that it is less of an experience in itself, but more of a social experience when one goes to the ball-park. Another big problem is the sheer number of games played in any one season: more than 160! This just dilutes the action and leaves even the most ardent fan somewhat exhausted for the constant games. Baseball has history behind it, but that will only keep it going so far. The game will need overhauling in the next decade if it is to remain popular.
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