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17 June 2007

Attendance Watch 2007, Game 35 edition

Back from some other responsibilities, and I figure we're overdue for a new installment of Attendance Watch. As you can see from the sidebar, this year's A's are nearly 100,000 better than last year's. They're also nearly 50,000 above 2005's YTD mark. 
So why are the A's doing better? It's not on-field performance since the A's have the same 37-31 mark as they did at this juncture last season. There are a few possible explanations:
  • Yankees. Last season's opening homestand featured the Yanks, who sold out all three games. However, this robbed the A's of an additional sellout because they could've had any team visit on opening night and have gotten a sellout. This season, the Yanks were the second team in, allowing the A's to have four sellouts during the first homestand (3 Yankees, 1 White Sox). Each sellout represents an additional 10,000+ attendees.
  • Red Sox. The Red Sox did not visit the Coliseum in 2006 until the second half, and the series was your garden variety weekday, three-game set. This season's visit from the Sox was also a weekday set, but it was four games, not three. Surprisingly, there were no sellouts this time despite the Sox holding the best record in baseball when they visited (though Sox fans were by no means underrepresented). 
  • Weather. Some have dismissed my theory that weather plays a part, but there definitely appears to be some effect, albeit one difficult to measure. The dry spring we've had in California has been much more conducive to bringing out casual fans than the wet spring of 2006. Temperatures have been fairly steady (cool), but rain has to be a huge deterrent. Simply watch the A's day-of-game ticket operations when rain has fallen prior to a game. There's a difference. 
As well as the turnstile performance has looked, expect the curve to flatten out over the rest of the season. The A's are on pace to break 2 million. Once again, the A's second half on-field performance will play a factor. Should they remain close in a race with the Angels and Mariners, the fans will come. If not, 2 million could be a reach.

This week's series against the Reds should find the gap between 2007 and 2006 shrinking ever so slightly. The weather forecast? More of the usual for Monday and Tuesday, temps around 60 degrees at first pitch and dropping down a few ticks by the end of each game.

31 comments:

Pissed off in SJ!! said...

Since it's been reported that Lew Wolff reads this blog, I have a question for him. You were quoted Mr. Wolff over at East Bay Biz Journal that your pal Bud Selig "really wants us (The A's) to stay in our territory (market)." In other words, stay in Alameda County, build a ballpark right on the border of SC County/San Jose, and respect the territorial rights of the SF Giants. My question to you Mr. Wolff...why are Bud Selig and Major League Baseball screwing the City of San Jose to protect Peter Magowans stupid rights?!! It doesn't make sense whatsoever! Everything you're getting in Fremont (South Bay corporate support, fan base) you would have gotten in downtown San Jose. You're also hurting the Giants financially just as much (if not more) as if you were building in San Jose proper. What gives?! Other than screwing the City of San Jose, the Giants territorial rights will mean absolutely nothing if you set up shop in Fremont.

Downtown San Jose continues to flounder despite years of redevelopment, and a MLB Ballpark would have did wonders to truly make the city center a destination place. Trust me, the critical mass provided by a ballpark is needed much more in downtown San Jose than the empty fields of southern Fremont.

In closing Mr. Wolff, San Jose doesn't benefit at all from being in Giants "territory," Pacific Commons could become the new destination place for Silicon Valley...and crickets, tumbleweeds will remain commonplace in downtown San Jose.

James said...

Pissed,

Territorial rights are territorial rights. You are correct in some respects that it doesn't make any sense; the only way here to truly protect the territory would have been to create a buffer zone (where neither team could move), and given the way that the bay area is situated geographically, I don't see how that can be done. I have a feeling that when the territories for the A's and Giants were created, it was done moreso to preclude another MLB team from coming to the bay area. Creating the territorial rights accomplished that. But now that they have been created, we have to live with it.

I don't think there is any negative impact to Lew to bring the team to Fremont rather than San Jose proper. In fact, he probably would have faced more hurdles in San Jose in terms of getting a parcel large enough for the project. And why would he want to build the village in downtown SJ when Santana Row is just up the road?

I think San Jose baseball fans should be happy that the A's will be in their backyard.

Anonymous said...

This year's average attendance of 24,755 is pathetic. With the Yankees ,Red Sox, and Giants already making their visits to the Coliseum things are mot looking particularly rosy.

Lew Wolff and his policies of closing the third deck, and abandoning Oakland, are directly to blame for the ongoing attendance decline. And, there will be a decline at years end. Oakland fans will not be used to support a lame duck franchise with one foot out the door.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:07,

Did you even read ML's post before spouting off? Attendance is up, not only over last year, but over the year before when the upper deck was open. Arguing that closing the upper deck has hurt attendance is, therefore, idiotic.

Closing the upper deck has done exactly what it was intended to do:

Year 1 - Attendance declines slightly, but average ticket price paid goes up significantly. Basically, the A's trade a bunch of $2 or $8 upper deck folks for people buying seats at $16 and up.

Year 2 - Once people realize they can no longer necessarily walk up and buy game day tickets for high demand games like the Yankees, Giants, or the playoffs, more buy season tickets. Plus, a certain percentage of casual fans, shut out of the high demand games, simply buy tickets for other games. Overall attendance rebounds, and then some.

You're right about one thing - A's attendance remains mediocre overall. But that problem predates the upper deck closure, predates the Fremont move, and predates Wolff. It is in fact a significant cause of the move south, not the result of it.

bart;ebu said...

ML: Any discussion on the increase in the season ticket base, and how that might play into the increased attendance?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:o7,

How can you say attendance is "up" when the more attractive draws have already made an appearance at the Coliseum and the A's are only averaging 24,755? The A's routinely were drawing around 2.2 million (27,160 per game) and are now on a pace to draw around 2 million. Even that figure is a stretch since most of the attractive draws have already made their appearances. It's likely that the A's will end up the season below 2 million fans.

Also, your contention that season ticket sales are up has absolutely no basis in fact. The mere fact that the A's have drawn crowds in the 12,000 range should tell you that season ticket sales have NOT increased substantially over previous years.

Also, the A's so called attendance woes date back to the sale of this franchise from Walter Haas to the previous South Bay carpetbagger Steve Schott. Since then, Lew Wolf has taken that baton and kept on running with it down 880 towards Fremont. These carpetbaggers with an infatuation for the South Bay corporate crowd, have NEVER given Oakland a shot at keeping this franchise.

Oakland A's fans realize that the writing has been on the wall since these South Bay and LA carpetbaggers have taken control of our team.

Also, I'm glad your content that Lew Wolf maybe squeezing a few more bucks from the well healed corporate crowd. But, in the long run, it's never a good idea to purposely exclude potential customers like families, students, and seniors from your product. This ill conceived strategy will ultimately en up shrinking the fan-base.

Also, abandoning a city which has been so closely linked to the glorious and rich history of this franchise is a horrible mistake. The alienation of Oakland A's fans is also taking its toll on attendance.

Georob said...

Anon 6:53:

If there were truly an effort to boycott A's games by those opposed to the Fremont move, don't you think that the OAFC would be leading it?

I mean, if you want to find dislike and disdain for Lew Wolff, go no further than Diamond Lil & Co. However, I DO read their site occaisonally, and while they're upset, they're still fans and still go to games. Obviously that will change the closer we get to completion of a stadium, but right now we're looking at about four more years in Oakland.

Oh sure, there are those who claim to have severed all ties with the team once Wolff even started hinting of looking elsewhere; but they're generally the folks who claim to be "through" with the A's every time a major player leaves. In short, they'll be back(and probably leave again)

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:53,

How can I say attendance is up? Because, um, the average number this year is bigger than last year. And bigger than 2005, even with its wide open upper deck.

You're right that an average of 25,000 is mediocre. You're wrong that it has ever been different, which is why Oakland is a mediocre market for MLB. The ONLY years in their history the A's have drawn significantly better than 2.2 million in Oakland were 1989 through 1992, when they were winning pennants and championships. During this period, attendance ranged from 2.4 to 2.9 million. Otherwise, attendance was as follows (in millions):

Up to 1980: Less than 1
'81 1.3
'82 1.7
'83 1.3
'84 1.3
'85 1.3
'86 1.3
'87 1.6
'88 2.2
'89 2.6
'90 2.9
'91 2.7
'92 2.4
'93 2.0
'94 1.2
'95 1.1
'96 1.1
'97 1.2
'98 1.2
'99 1.4
'00 1.6
'01 2.1
'02 2.1
'03 2.2
'04 2.2
'05 2.1

The facts simply do not support your pronouncements. The A's did not "consistently" draw 2.2 million before the closing of the upper deck. Sure, for the five years prior they did. But for the seven years prior to that, they drew barely more than half that.

Nor did Schott drive fans away. The year before the bought the team, the A's drew 1.1 million. During his ownership, attendance slowly and steadily grew to nearly double that.

Nor are the A's on pace to draw "around 2 million." They are actually on pace to draw 2.17 million - right around your magic 2.2 million figure. (And this without reliance on those $2 upper deck seats to inflate the numbers).

Your argument that attendance will go down the rest of the year is purely speculative. In 2005, the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, White Sox and Mets had all visited Oakland by late June, so the fact that attendance is running above 2005 so far is a relevant comparison. Actually, the fact that 2007 is ahead without the 40,000+ crowds that bolstered early 2005 attendance indicates that the upper-deck closure strategy is working: A large number of people who can't go to the high demand games are going to other games instead. This bodes well for attendance the rest of the way.

Nor do I buy that the schedule is devoid of high demand games going forward. Most of the Angels and fireworks games remain, which draw well. Maybe not 45,000 like the Yankees did back in the day, but this is no longer relevant. Enough to likely sell the place out at 34,000. The point isn't to draw massive crowds for only a few games, the point is to draw good crowds to a lot of games.

(In the end, of course, the A's performance will play a huge part in the final figures. If the A's stay in contention the rest of the way, they will likely beat 2005. If they fall out of contention, they will likely fall short).

As for season tickets being up, ML reported early last year that season tickets had gone from 7,000 to 8,000 within a few weeks of the announcement of the upper-deck closure. I recall reading last fall that the A's sold a few thousand tickets up to and through the playoffs after they wisely announced the upper-deck would remain closed during the post-season. If we assume for the sake of argument that season tickets are currently at about 10,000, that would be a 50% increase in the first year after the upper-deck closure. It would also be entirely consistent with a crowd of 12,000 for some of those early-week games. Lots of season ticket holders wind up eating their tickets for those games, as evidenced by the empty seats in sold-out MVP and Field Level sections. A high percentage of those who drag themselves out to the ballpark for a Monday night game against the Royals are also likely season ticket holders.

ML: Any statistics on this year's season ticket base to help inform this debate?

Anonymous said...

When fans feel mistreated and alienated they just stop showing up. No one needs to organize a boycott. This is exactly what is happening with the A's. Lew Wolff will eventually run this franchise into the ground with the lack of consideration for his customers.

There has never been a clamor for a relocation by Oakland A's fans. This relocation idea has come strictly from ownership. Obviously, from the lack of future ticket sales linked to Cisco Field, it's quite apparent that Oakland A's fans aren't buying into Wolff's grandiose Fremont plans.

Cisco field in Fremont will never generate the kind of excitement which increases a franchise's season ticket base. In other words, a ballpark in Fremont has no coat tails. A ballpark in Jack London Square or near Lake Merritt would generate the kind of excitement which would indeed increase the season ticket base.

At this point Wolff would be better off staying at the Coliseum with a few baseball friendly alterations. A ballpark in Fremont is not a good return on investment.

Marine Layer said...

I see no indication that A's attendance is flagging. I suppose anyone can spin numbers to fit their worldview, but that doesn't make it a correct assessment.

I don't have season ticket numbers at the ready. But I doubt that the roll has dropped, considering the fact that the A's made the LCS in 2006. They let go of Zito and Thomas, but they also signed Piazza and bumped payroll appreciably. At worst, growth is flat.

A Lake Merritt ballpark would have been exciting, once you got past the NIMBY issues, lack of parking and available space. JLS would've had a similar no-BART problem to Fremont. In the end, both Oakland sites are straw men.

At some point you have to wonder if the A's on-field success (or lack of achievement past a certain point) has bit them the same way the Atlanta Braves have been bitten. There's a lot of fan apathy there that won't change until something major happens. At least building a ballpark, to paraphrase Billy Beane, isn't a "crapshoot."

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer, the proximity to the Lake Merritt BART station and Jack London Square is about 3/4 of a mile. The Fremont site is five miles from BART. No comparison. There is also an Amtrak station at Jack London Square.

Also, in your analysis of the A's lack of increase in attendance despite division tittles and advancement to the League Championship, you fail to include the closure of the third deck and the alienation of Oakland fans as a possible factor. I don't agree that it's "apathy" that is keeping attendance down. During the Schott regime, Mr. Schott would constantly denigrate his venue and criticize the fans just as the A's were peaking in the field and attendance was heading up.

In other words, the Schott and Wolff ownerships have managed to consistently wrench defeat out of the jaws of victory. They've been a public relations nightmare and an excellent reason for many fans to stay away.

Marine Layer said...

I've done studies of both sites and know very well what their positives and negatives are. 3/4 mile requires a shuttle, guaranteed. Same as with Fremont - and yes, Warm Springs is going to happen. The street infrastructure around Lake Merritt would not be able to handle the high amounts of traffic.

The blind hatred of current and previous ownership is amusing. Seriously, you could poll 1,000 fans at the Coliseum or anywhere else in the East Bay and ask them this question, "Which issue has retarded the A's attendance?"

Choices:
A. The annual slow starts by the team
B. Lack of star power or stars frequently leaving the team
C. Cold nights in April/May discourage walkup crowds
D. A lackluster facility with few amenities compared to other local venues
E. Alienation of fans by ownership

Do you honestly think E would win in a landslide? I doubt it would even come in the top two. Those of us that are hardcore need to face facts. The Bay Area is fairweather, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. There's too much transient population, too much good weather year-round, too many other entertainment options. I'm proud to have been born here and to have grown up here. But the fans here are far too casual.

anon-a-mouse said...

How typical. On one side you have facts and reality. On the other you have wild speculation and the projection of someone's worldview on the rest of us. Nice work anon 4:11 (nice timing since there is actual information in your posts) and Marine Layer.

anon-a-mouse said...

ML, It's a little deeper than the Bay Area fan being too casual. You have to factor in the effect of being a two-team market. I think every market has a certain segment of fans that is hardcore, while the vast majority of the fanbase is fairweather. The hardcore baseball fans in this area are split between two teams. If the A's were the only team in town, I don't think we'd be having a conversation about the A's fanbase being too fairweather.

Georob said...

One more response to your question should be:

"I'm a Giants fan and/or don't like the DH"

I'm absolutely convinced that one reason the A's attendance can't seem to go above 2.2 million despite their recent success is that the Giants have made tremendous inroads into the East Bay fan base since ATT Park opened, particularly in affluent areas of Contra Costa County.

I'll say this again: The name "San Francisco" connects with people all over the Bay Area, if not Northern California. "Oakland" never has, and while it would be a big improvement, "San Jose" wont either.

The Giants PR juggernaut is huge. And the A's need to deal with that head on if they are to succeed wherever they wind up.

Anonymous said...

The A's belong in San Jose.
The Raiders belong in San Jose.
The Warriors belong in San Jose.
and the 49'ers will be in Santa Clara.

And it's going to happen, no matter what anyone here thinks to the contrary.

Anonymous said...

Most of the Bay Area has virtually nothing in common with San Francisco. I grew up in Oakland and San Francisco has never connected with me. You could say the same about many folks in the Tri-Valley area as well as Concord and Walnut Creek. As far as your opinion that San Jose would be "a big improvement" over Oakland that's only your biased opinion talking.

James said...

Anon 5:54

How can you state that most of the bay area has nothing in common with San Francisco? I grew up in the bay area and San Francisco is and always has been the epicenter of the region. The newscasts are based in SF (with the exception now of NBC... Channel 2 was never more than a mediocre production). If people go to the theatre, it's usually SF. I remember holiday shopping trips to Union Square with the windows decorated, stores now gone like City of Paris, Liberty House, Emporium, and I Magnin. My parents and grandparents took us to SF to get the real feel of a town square holiday season. And let's not forget shows like The Streets of San Francisco, Ironside, Phyliss, and McMillan and Wife, all centered in San Francisco. And of course there are countless classic movies such a Vertigo and many others. I think it goes without saying that the average bay area resident connects a lot more with San Francisco than with Oakland.

bartleby said...

Rob,

The numbers don't really support your contention that A's attendance is stuck because "the Giants have made tremendous inroads into the East Bay fan base since ATT Park opened." Go back and re-read the numbers posted by anon 4:11: A's attendance was up 200K in 2000, the year Pac Bell opened. It was up an additional 500-600K each of the following years, for a total increase of 700-800K over the last Candlestick year.

Nor do the numbers support your argument that it's all about the magical name "San Francisco." If you look at comparative attendance figures for the A's and Giants before Pac Bell opened, they are comparable. Some years the Giants drew better, some years the A's drew better, largely depending on how well they were doing. But there's no evidence the name "San Francisco" was conferring some massive marketing advantage.

Conclusion: It's all about the ballpark.

I don't doubt that lots more East Bay folks go to Giants games than they used to, but that hasn't noticably hurt the A's. The reason: Pac Bell Park actually expanded the market for MLB in the Bay Area. Lots more casual fans are going to Giants games generally. We can complain about the corporate crowd, cel phone talkers, etc. at Giants games, but they are the reason aggregate attendance for both teams in the Bay Area is up dramatically. The same thing will happen when Cisco Field opens: A lot of casual East Bay and South Bay fans who do not currently go to games will start going, or going more often.

Speaking for myself, I never went to Giants games before Pac Bell Park opened. I still go to about 8 or 10 A's games a year, but now I also go to 3 or 4 Giants games. Why? Fan loyalties aside, it's just a better entertainment experience. But I expect my Giant's attendance to go way down once Cisco Field opens.

Bottom line, once Cisco Field opens the A's will be very competitive with the Giants.

Georob said...

When I say that people identify with San Francisco, I'm referring to the region, not necessarily the city itself. It's very easy for someone from Hayward to identify with an SF team, but I doubt someone from San Mateo would equally identify with Oakland.

But I can tell you this. Back in the late 80's when the A's were outdrawing the Giants regularly, whenever I heard someone listehing to baseball on the radio, it was more often than not a Giants game. And this was when the A's were on a pretty strong station themselves(KSFO) Same with TV.

Granted, some of this is because the Giants were here first, but for whatever reason the Giants have a stronger identity within Northern California and a big part of that is the name "San Francisco"

I will concede that because of hills, the bay, and microclimates it's easy to close off oneself to other parts of the Bay Area. But to say that the Bay Area has NOTHING to do with SF is pure nonsense.

Put away the San Jose pom poms, Bartleby!

Anonymous said...

Cisco field in Fremont will pale in comparison to AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The fundamental differences in the thinking of these two franchises is perfectly illustrated in their decisions on where to build their ballparks.

The San Francisco Giants decided that they would embrace their city and community and build a ballpark which would forever cement their identity to this community.

On the East Side of the bay we have a franchise which is attempting to run away from their city and community and build a ballpark in the middle of a suburban wetland. We have a franchise that will sell its soul and identity to CISCO and some hand picked marketing agency for a few more bucks. This franchise will be a team devoid of any identity and any connection to a city. It will be a franchise in purgatory, located between Oakland and San Jose.

The decision by the Oakland A's to never consider Oakland as a viable location for their ballpark is a decision which will please many of the elitist, if not racist, anti-Oakland crowd in the Bay Area.

Perhaps Dave Del Grande is correct about the basic motivation of this franchise. Maybe this is all about whitewashing the entire A's franchise including the location. If that's the case, Oakland should be glad to be ridding itself of this crowd, along with the elitist and racists who seem to have an irrational fear and hatred for the city of Oakland.

Marine Layer said...

Folks, please don't respond to the obviously baiting comment. It's really pathetic that it's the only tactic some can resort to. It's better to just let it sit there and laugh at the author - because it really is quite humorous.

bartleby said...

I will never put away my San Jose pom poms. But for what it's worth, I have some Oakland pom poms as well. :-)

qzsqtxv said...

Folks, please don't respond to Marine Layer's obviously baiting comment.

It's really pathetic that this (a blog owner making fun of his readers/contributors with dissenting opinions)
is the only tactic he can resort to.

It's better to just let it sit there and laugh at the author (one who denigrates his audience, much like the Oakland A's, and their pathetic marketing/advertising staff, who seem to be held blameless in their affairs) because it really is quite humorous.

Marine Layer said...

Got anymore, anon? Please, accuse me of being racist too while you're at it.

Georob said...

Rhamesis, because of the Dave Del Grande reference in the original post, I originally gave you the benefit of the doubt; but now I have to say that you set yourself up for this by letting that post stand.

I said a long time ago that before this was over someone in Oakland was going to play the "race card" in order to cast the A's in a negative light. And I wouldn't be surprised at all if we eventually see it from city officials who may be sympathetic to Wolff's needs but also need East Oakland votes for re-election.

I doubt if this "anonymous poster" is an Oakland city official, but either way, the word "racist" is still a very powerful tool, as evidenced by your own response, ML.

anon-a-mouse said...

Marine Layer did you a favor. But of course someone with your limited intellect will never get that.

Marine Layer said...

Rob, I've gotten to the point that I don't take the comments seriously enough to believe that they deserve an arbiter of truth or even truthiness. If I did, there'd be far fewer comments.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone so taken aback? Race is a legitimate topic in our society.

Let's not pretend that race doesn't come into play when talking about many Bay Area residents views and perceptions regarding the city of Oakland.

Many people on this board dismiss Oakland as a viable location for MLB based on their personal bias. The issue of race is deeply ingrained in our society and manifests itself in these business decisions such as on where to locate this ballpark. Therefore, it's a perfect legitimate topic in this conversation. Folk's need not begin to blush and cover their children's eyes whenever this topic is brought up.

There is a long held perception held by many Bay Area residents that anything positive in Oakland would be that much better located somewhere else. Now, instead of berating the author and faining indignation, why don't some of you address this important issue that's affecting the future of the Oakland A's?

Georob said...

Well, it's certainly not going to end here. For if the A's current problems on the field don't reverse themselves soon, it's likely that attendance will fall short as we get into late August and September.

And what will we hear then? That fans are not coming to games because of the Fremont move, or that Lew Wolff is purposely letting the team deteriorate in order to rid himself of the Oakland fans and set the A's up to be a San Jose team.

Of course, the A's always turn it around in July and August. But if they don't then the conspiracy theorists may heat up big time.

Marine Layer said...

I'm devoting a post to this. Coming up soon.