Monday, May 4, 2009

2009 Royals Attendance

2009 Royals attendance, total: 257,325 (24/30)

2009 Royals attendance, average per game: 19,794 (28/30)

These figures have actually decreased from where we were at this time last year through 13 home games.

We need a large crowd tonight against Greinke. I think tonight should be the ultimate test. A weeknight, in which the Royals have had continuous struggles in selling tickets. A divisional rival, and perhaps slightly more importantly, a hated divisional rival in the Chicago White Sox. Beautiful weather (forecast calls for 70 degrees and sunny by gametime). Beautiful new ballpark, for which Jackson County residents paid $250 million. Excellent new amenities and scenery. Vastly improved ballclub, that has improved by at least six games each of the past three seasons, and is now 14-11 and in sole possession of first place in a highly winnable division. One of the best pitchers in recent memory, and perhaps one of the best Royals pitchers *ever*, starting this evening.

If we still draw 10-13K or so, then it will a damning indictment as to just how much farther the Royals need to go in order to draw respectable crowds.

Thus far, I have read these excuses:

- Drawing large crowds is difficult because kids in Kansas City attend school. Therefore, families aren't motivated to attend. (Evidently, they don't in other outdoor/northern cities).

- The weather has been terrible in Kansas City. (Evidently, the weather in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Cincinnati has been continuous with 70+ degree weather and sunshine).

- Economic hard times. (But hasn't this affected all of MLB? Perhaps it's affected K.C. more than other markets....)

- The ballpark does not have restrooms and cannot sustain large crowds. (OK, fair enough).

Which excuse is it? Or is it a combination of all of these?

It seems every time I raise this topic, either directly in person or on the medium of a computer, the topic is always downplayed completely or I'm shouted down by a myriad of excuses.'s time the Royals start to substantially increase their attendance. I believe that attendance will go up if the Royals are in a divisional race until late in the season (or, obviously, after). However, it's fair to be disappointed this early. To get so defensive over this issue is even more of a damning indictment than the issue itself. This is evidently an overtly sensitive topic in the hearts, minds, and eyes of many Royals fans.

By the way, Todd's conclusion that a major reason for lack of attendance is that K.C. is a "small market" (essentially) is by far the best explanation, in my opinion. And when I discussed the greater area (I won't take the time and filter through for direct quotes), I was talking about the entire region....South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, north Arkansas, etc. etc. For the record, I wouldn't necessarily agree with the insinuation that K.C. isn't a baseball town, because it's largely unquantifiable. I think that conclusion is what many fans fear or dislike when people like myself vent my frustrations on the form of the Internet.

At the places where I work, many people know that I am a devoted Royals fan, and very few are interested in the Royals. Very few are interested in sports, at all. It's unfortunate....I have lived in the heart of K.C. for almost 23 years....but I can tell you that they still have a reputation as a sad-sack ballclub. Take it from Greg Schaum of 610 Sports....that is why attracting businesses to promote is so difficult. And yet they have improved substantially each of the past three years and appear to have improved yet again this year, at least in the standings. So perhaps the Royals' marketing and sales department deserves criticism, as well.

Perhaps it's the city's fault. The organization's fault. Perhaps we're just small. I just can't agree with these conclusions based on weather or "it's early" or something along those lines. But who knows the real reason? Perhaps it's a combination.

If you were to ask me to generate every possible reason for stagnant (or even moderately decreasing) attendance, here are the arguments I would formulate:

- We're a small market...therefore, we won't compete consistently with the Chicagos and New Yorks and Bostons. (70%)

- The organization has not promoted its product adequately or well. (30%)

People *should* have taken notice. The fact that the Royals aren't yet a .500 ballclub shouldn't be an excuse. Attendance moves like a ship...but it's never this slow. It wasn't in Milwaukee. And now they're drawing 3+ million, easily.


Anonymous said...

Wouldm't attendence as a % of total capacity be a better metric to judge effecieny against other teams?

ex: avg game attendence/ Capacity

19,794/ 40,625 = on average the K is 48.72% full

and then rank Royal against the other team' attendence .

Anonymous said...

The Royals have been putrid for so long that people simply lost interest and got out of the habit of going to games. Seriously -- two decades of God-awful baseball is a sure-fire way of killing off a fanbase. Attendance is not magically going to double just because the team is better this year. If the team stays in the hunt all season, attendance will get much larger in the second half. And if the Royals put together a few competitive years in a row, there will be a big increase.

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