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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

AP: Stadium less than half-full for Game 2 at Nationals Park

With more than half the seats empty, Game 2 at Nationals Park got off to a bit of a rough start. The gigantic, high-definition scoreboard beyond the outfield at the Washington Nationals’ new $611 million stadium was only partially working in the first inning Monday night, with no ball-strike count and no scoreline. Just a much-much-larger-than-life photo of the batter.

The ribbon boards were out completely in the first inning, meaning the spectators there for the beginning of the game against the Florida Marlins—the announced paid attendance was 20,487 in the 41,888-capacity stadium—had no way of knowing what the score was.

The out-of-town scoreboard on the wall in right-center? That was blank, too.

“Ten years from now,” Nationals president Stan Kasten said, “you’re going to have nights when stuff like that happens.”

Also odd: Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green was invited to call out, “Washington, let’s play ball!” before the first pitch, but the microphone didn’t work. He was handed another mike—and had no luck with that one, either.
...
“I’m very happy with tonight’s crowd,” Kasten said. “I mean, with the weather what it is, on a Monday night for Florida, second game of the year, cold weather, against an NCAA championship game.”

NTNgod Posted: April 08, 2008 at 02:33 AM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Champions Table Posted: April 08, 2008 at 02:49 AM (#2734491)
[T]he spectators there for the beginning of the game against the Florida Marlins—the announced paid attendance was 20,487 in the 41,888-capacity stadium—had no way of knowing what the score was.


I'm going to say this was a slight overstatement.
   2. Sean McNally Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:04 AM (#2734502)
In a related story... it was 43 degrees at game time and had rained all day.
   3. Pujols Shot Ya Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:12 AM (#2734503)
Yeah, it's a bad series and the weather was miserable today, but that seems awful low. Opening day sold out in under an hour and game two isn't even half capacity? Yuck.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:13 AM (#2734505)
I agree with #1

"oh my god, its the first batter of the game, but i have no idea what the score is!!! technology come help me!"
   5. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:24 AM (#2734509)
I think I didn't even look at the scoreboard last time I was at a game. I kept score, and knew everything that had happened because I saw it!
   6. North Side Chicago Expatriate Giants Fan Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:24 AM (#2734510)
Yeah, it's a bad series and the weather was miserable today, but that seems awful low. Opening day sold out in under an hour and game two isn't even half capacity? Yuck.

Weak. I was at the second game ever at Pac Bell/AT&T Park and waited through at least an hour, if not two, of rain delays before the game was suspended (and finished the next day). It was, of course, a sellout.

Granted, it wasn't as cold in San Francisco, but we just didn't want to leave. Candlestick will do that to you, but the Nats were in RFK, and DC didn't even have baseball (ok sort of in Baltimore) for 30+ years.
   7. Chris Needham Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:29 AM (#2734511)
When your big free agent acquisition is Odalis Perez, you deserve to have an empty stadium.
   8. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:31 AM (#2734513)
Offtopic but .... oh ####! The Kansas/Memphis game is a good one.
   9. HowardMegdal Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:38 AM (#2734516)
The AP is such a downer. Why not say the stadium was more than half empty?
   10. Zach Posted: April 08, 2008 at 05:14 AM (#2734557)
Offtopic but .... oh ####! The Kansas/Memphis game is a good one.

Absolutely. That three by Chalmers was unbelievable.

Memphis played an outstanding game, too. It's funny that the first thing I read about them this year was that the free throws would catch up to them in the end.
   11. jwb Posted: April 08, 2008 at 06:41 AM (#2734596)
Oh, man. A nonworking scoreboard? No sound? That sounds terrific. Certainly worth a try from time to time.
I was at an afternoon game at Comiskey about 15-20 years when they lost power. It was very enjoyable, except that I was about the only person in the section keeping score. . .

The people closer to the large pall of smoke over the leftfield grandstand where the electrical substation was burning may have had a different experience. Forget it, jwb. It's Chinatown.
   12. salajander Posted: April 08, 2008 at 02:38 PM (#2734703)
There were "only" 41000 people at Yankee Stadium last night, when I would have expected at least 5-7000 more what with 3.8 million ticket sold already. I wonder if the NCAA finals had more of an effect than we thought?
   13. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: April 08, 2008 at 02:44 PM (#2734707)
That might be the smallest crowd of the season at Yankee Stadium, espcially if the weather perks up by the time they're back in town for any length of time.
   14. Xander Posted: April 08, 2008 at 02:45 PM (#2734709)
I doubt it had much effect on a Yankees game. The NCAA Finals is a nice event, but it isn't something you switch up your life around for.
   15. JJ1986 Posted: April 08, 2008 at 02:56 PM (#2734719)
I thought about going to the game, but not only was the weather bad, the pitching matchup was Tim Redding against Andrew Miller. Since I'm at most gonna go to one game this week, I'd rather wait a few days and see John Smoltz.
   16. Rodder Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:18 PM (#2734737)
Am I the only one that thinks the ribbon boards really take away from the beauty of a lot of stadiums. They fit well into some stadiums like Anaheim, but not in others like Camden.
   17. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:37 PM (#2734748)
Yeah, it's a bad series and the weather was miserable today, but that seems awful low. Opening day sold out in under an hour and game two isn't even half capacity? Yuck.

Actually it wasn't raining all that much here yesterday, but it was cold, and they were playing the Marlins. The truth is what it's always been about Washington: There just aren't that many baseball fans here, at least of the non-frontrunning variety. And lots of us have kept our allegiances to other teams that we've had for many years, which is easy to do with all those cheap TV packages.

When you combine all that with the ticket prices, the lack of parking, and the fact that most suburbanites who want to go to a weeknight game will have to find a parking space in often-full Metro lots, it won't surprise me to find a lot of small crowds this year. At least until the Nats get hot, and then you'll get one sellout after another. The only perennial loser this town tolerates is the Redskins.
   18. Answer Guy, outhacking you by a mile. Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:40 PM (#2734750)
I guess that's good news for someone (like me) who wants to check out the new park but doesn't want to pay a scalpers' premium.
   19. Pujols Shot Ya Posted: April 08, 2008 at 03:52 PM (#2734760)
But this was "paid attendance" right? The weather should only affect the walk-up crowd... which isn't too significant. I was just more surprised that they couldn't sell half their tickets for game number two.
   20. Dr Stankus and the Semicolons Posted: April 08, 2008 at 04:00 PM (#2734765)
Disgraceful. This city doesn't deserve a team.

Montreal has a stadium, they could be up and running there in no time.
   21. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: April 08, 2008 at 04:00 PM (#2734766)
I wonder what average April attendance is around the league. (Or, I suppose, average percentage of capacity.) Seems like it'd be a lot lower than the other months thanks to weather/school factors, etc.
   22. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 08, 2008 at 04:21 PM (#2734786)
If you had to guess what was going to be the lowest attendance at a Nats game this year, Monday night would be a pretty good guess: a weeknight game in April, in bad weather, against the most faceless (and probably worst) team in the league.

Every year around this time, there are a few stories about ballparks featuring their lowest-ever attendance, as if it's some horrific thing. This is usually because they are bad teams, playing their third or fourth year in a new stadium, which is starting to not feel so new anymore. You can predict which teams these are going to be: The Astros seem like a pretty good guess, maybe the Padres.
   23. John Northey Posted: April 08, 2008 at 04:43 PM (#2734799)
Should be interesting to see what happens in Washington this year. If crowds of under 30k are common this year then we're in a Montreal situation - win or no one comes. New stadiums should always bring big crowds year one. Old park for 3 years, new one in year 4.

Average attendance by season...
Year 1: 33,728
Year 2: 26,581
Year 3: 23,998
Year 4: 29,938 after 2 games

2nd game in '07 was a Tuesday and had 20,894 fans vs this years 20,487 on a Monday. Ouch.

So, how long till Loria is given this team to destroy...er...run again?
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 08, 2008 at 04:50 PM (#2734808)
I think a low game 2 crowd with lousy weather is fairly common. Before the Yankees entered their 4 million attendance phase, they routinely went from Opening Day sell-out to 25,000 for game 2.

I was at game 2 for the Yankees this year, and there were probably only 25,000 in the house. The 40,000+ announced is all season tickets. I wouldn't expect much more from the Nationals in crappy April weather until they build up the season ticket base.
   25. Pujols Shot Ya Posted: April 08, 2008 at 05:14 PM (#2734850)
I live in Arlington, I don't really know why I'm complaining. I have fond memories, from living in Pittsburgh, of going to a beautiful ballpark and never having to worry about getting tickets ahead of time.
   26. Chris Needham Posted: April 08, 2008 at 05:16 PM (#2734855)
'cause I'm bored, I clicked through some old box scores.

It's the smallest second-game crowd of any new stadium going back to SkyDome. Only Detroit and the Reds were in the 20s.
   27. Answer Guy, outhacking you by a mile. Posted: April 08, 2008 at 05:25 PM (#2734887)
If you had to guess what was going to be the lowest attendance at a Nats game this year, Monday night would be a pretty good guess: a weeknight game in April, in bad weather, against the most faceless (and probably worst) team in the league.


I would have thought the novelty of the new stadium would be able to carry the attendance for a while, certainly more than one game. If I had to pick a low-attendance game it would be on an overcast night game in September, with the kids back in school and the Nats most likely well out of the pennant race, against either the Marlins or a similarly faceless (well, no other team is quite *that* faceless) opponent.
   28. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 08, 2008 at 05:26 PM (#2734889)
Should be interesting to see what happens in Washington this year. If crowds of under 30k are common this year then we're in a Montreal situation - win or no one comes.

Just out of curiosity, has any consistently sub-.500 team ever averaged 30,000+ crowds for more than 2 or 3 years in a row? Seems to me that the only teams that average crowds like that over the long run have all been perennial contenders.
   29. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 08, 2008 at 05:33 PM (#2734898)
I was going to say the Dodgers, but they haven't actually had 3 sub .500 seasons in a row since moving to Los Angeles! From the LA papers, you'd think they'd been out of contention for the whole decade of the '90s and half the '00s.
   30. Answer Guy, outhacking you by a mile. Posted: April 08, 2008 at 05:40 PM (#2734926)
Not sure this counts, Andy, but Wrigley Field comes pretty close. The Cubs haven't been the Pirates or anything but during my lifetime their relatively successful seasons ('84, '89, '03) have tended to be isolated events in a general pattern of futility.

Fenway was reasonably well attended during the two Butch Hobson years, which were relatively short in duration but sure looked like a time of despair with no real end in sight.
   31. BDC Posted: April 08, 2008 at 06:00 PM (#2734969)
The Rangers consistently draw ~30K/g each year. Since they stopped winning at the turn of the century, they have drawn between 25,857 per game ('03) and 34,951 ('01). Our crowds seem to be a mix of Texan families that love to run around doing mallpark stuff and young, corporate-transfer Red Sox fans :)
   32. Babe Adams Posted: April 08, 2008 at 06:57 PM (#2735111)
I think the reason the Nats had the lowest second game attendance in a new park might be because they played their opener, then immediately left town, so that the second game was also the start of the second homestand. The Pirates averaged 35,000 paid for their opening series in PNC in 2002, then fell down to 20,000 for the next weekday series.
   33. Chris Needham Posted: April 08, 2008 at 07:20 PM (#2735171)
Phew! We're as good as the Pirates!
   34. Babe Adams Posted: April 08, 2008 at 08:38 PM (#2735498)
No, when you win 10,000 games, you'll be as good as the Pirates.

See, the way it works is, you win something before you start acting jaggy.
   35. bads85 Posted: April 08, 2008 at 08:48 PM (#2735529)
See, the way it works is, you win something before you start acting jaggy.


No one but the old remember when the Pirates won something (division titles don't count as "something"). See, the way it works is, if that "something" is well on the way to qualifying for an AARP card, you aren't acting jaggy, just cranky because your bones creak.
   36. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 08, 2008 at 09:36 PM (#2735635)
Just out of curiosity, has any consistently sub-.500 team ever averaged 30,000+ crowds for more than 2 or 3 years in a row? Seems to me that the only teams that average crowds like that over the long run have all been perennial contenders.

I was going to say the Dodgers, but they haven't actually had 3 sub .500 seasons in a row since moving to Los Angeles! From the LA papers, you'd think they'd been out of contention for the whole decade of the '90s and half the '00s.


I worded that question with the Dodgers specifically in mind. The LA fans haven't really been tested since the years after Koufax retired. And in those first two years they won 73 and 76 games and averaged 20,000 and then 19,000, compared to 32,000 and 31,000 in Koufax's last two (pennant winning) years. But at this point there's so much money in LA, the population is so big, and the weather is so baseball-perfect all season long, that it's hard to imagine them ever again dipping below 30,000.

Not sure this counts, Andy, but Wrigley Field comes pretty close. The Cubs haven't been the Pirates or anything but during my lifetime their relatively successful seasons ('84, '89, '03) have tended to be isolated events in a general pattern of futility.

Yeah, I think that the Cubs, or rather Wrigley Field, could fairly be called the exception that proves the rule. But I doubt if they'd be drawing crowds like that if they were playing in any other park---take away Wrigley, and they'd probably be drawing like the White Sox. Great as long as they won, but not much at all if they weren't.

The Rangers consistently draw ~30K/g each year. Since they stopped winning at the turn of the century, they have drawn between 25,857 per game ('03) and 34,951 ('01). Our crowds seem to be a mix of Texan families that love to run around doing mallpark stuff and young, corporate-transfer Red Sox fans :)

They're close, but you had an A-Rod spike for the first couple of years and droves of Red Sox and Yankee fans all along. Take those out and you drop the average quite a bit. LA and Wrigley aren't dependent on factors like that to pack em in, any more than Yankee Stadium or Fenway.
   37. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 08, 2008 at 09:41 PM (#2735643)
No one but the old remember when the Pirates won something (division titles don't count as "something"). See, the way it works is, if that "something" is well on the way to qualifying for an AARP card, you aren't acting jaggy, just cranky because your bones creak.

Jesus, I hadn't thought about it that way, but if the Pirates' pennant drought were a human being, it'd be nearly 60% along the road to that AARP card. And they say that 29 is the new 50---or is it the other way around?
   38. SBB, Live from the Alt-Center Posted: April 08, 2008 at 09:53 PM (#2735665)
I have a DC past and was a big on-the-spot supporter of Nats '05, and it pains me to say this but ... baseball has a chance to be a complete disaster in DC. I would have put the odds on that in September 2004 at about .0001%.

Make all the excuses and rationalizations you want, but 20K in the second game in a spanking new stadium (and it sounds like it really wasn't even that) is awful. As is 18K season tickets in a new stadium year.
   39. SBB, Live from the Alt-Center Posted: April 08, 2008 at 09:58 PM (#2735674)
I don't think there's much doubt that a new stadium in Montreal would have had more than 20K in it for the second game.

The heretofore unthinkable has entered my consciousness, probably too late: Would the franchise have been better off staying in Montreal?
   40. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 08, 2008 at 10:27 PM (#2735708)
SugarBear, if the Nats don't draw (though I think they will), they'll have no one to blame but themselves. The ticket prices are high (with a few limited exceptions), the concessions are at near-gouge levels, the parking is nonexistent for anyone but season ticket holders, and if you don't live near a Metro it's not going to be an easy park to get to. Plus there's going to be limited Metro station parking for weeknight games, especially if you want to get to the game early.

That said, I still think that when the weather warms up and schools let out, the Nats will draw well. There's just too much money in DC, and too much curiosity about the new park for it to be otherwise. But after the first two or three years, it's going to be win or else, just like it is in every park outside Wrigley Field and maybe Dodger Stadium. And if they don't win, the Lerners are going to have to reach beyond their current base of deep pocketed fans in order to keep the stands even half filled. I'm not sure that they quite understand this.
   41. SBB, Live from the Alt-Center Posted: April 08, 2008 at 10:31 PM (#2735709)
That's the optimistic view, Andy. The pessimistic view is that the market stinks for baseball. Well, check that, the pessimistic view is that the Asbestos King was actually right.

Which is too much for even the most dedicated of objectivists to contemplate, so I'll stop ....
   42. Chris Needham Posted: April 08, 2008 at 10:31 PM (#2735711)
Eh.

You've got cheap owners.

Rancorous DC politics.

Salivating media, assuring us that traffic was going to grind to a halt as if DC were overcome by a Buffalo snowstorm.

and cheap owners.

Add it up, and it's not unreasonable.

DC is a fickle market. There's a limited pool of natives, most of whom were at the game. The rest are the transients from all over the country. Why should they give up their teams, the ones they grew up with, for this crapbag team?

When the team wins, they'll draw. Just as they did in mid-2005. When they stink on ice -- as they have SINCE mid-2005 -- nobody cares. I don't think that's a bad market. I think that (in some ways) is a smart market.

I'm GLAD the team isn't being rewarded for dropping payroll below a level that MLB ran it at while moving into a new stadium. I'm GLAD that the team isn't being rewarded for calling Odalis Perez and Paul Lo Duca its big FA acquisitions. And I'm glad they're not being rewarded for trying to pass of their motley collection of future 4th starters as a burgeoning rotation, the next Smoltz and Glavine.

Stan Kasten has repeatedly said that "we'll get the attendance we deserve." He's right. They don't deserve crap with their pisspoor efforts on and off the field. /fanboy_rant
   43. SBB, Live from the Alt-Center Posted: April 08, 2008 at 10:37 PM (#2735713)
and cheap owners.

Put there by Bud F/In Selig for that very purpose. Actually the franchise is Bud's wet dream -- new stadium extorted 100% from government, owner who doesn't want to spend money. A noncompetitive, nondescript, low overhead nonfactor in every particular.

I'm not going to retrosheet it, but I'd wager there were more Washington area fans at the second game at Camden Yards in 1996 than were in Nationals Park last night. I'd wager further that Camden Yards had close to as many DC area ST holders from 1992-00 as Nationals Park does today. There's simply no way to lipstick up that oinker.
   44. Curse of the Andino Posted: April 08, 2008 at 11:18 PM (#2735738)
And, to reiterate, for us Marylanders--especially Montgomery Countians--you know, 1 million people, high income, relatively recession-proof 'cuz we live off the rest of the nation via government spending, Baltimore is closer, cheaper, less of a hassle.

... and I live near metro.

There were absolutely more DC fans at the Yard in the '90s. Game 2 at Camden was a Fantastic Fans Night--the crowd that takes its hat off for Lee Greenwood, but every other night you saw the Wine/Cheese/Cellphone types.

I will see a Nats game this year, maybe a couple. But I'm definitely gonna hit Adam Jones T-shirt night next Tuesday, and would do that even if the O's were 1-6.
   45. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 09, 2008 at 12:00 AM (#2735787)
I'm not going to retrosheet it, but I'd wager there were more Washington area fans at the second game at Camden Yards in 1996 than were in Nationals Park last night. I'd wager further that Camden Yards had close to as many DC area ST holders from 1992-00 as Nationals Park does today. There's simply no way to lipstick up that oinker.

Sure, but in 1996 and 1997 the O's were at their (temporary) peak of performance, since Angelos's meddling hadn't yet caught up with them. Plus there was the Ripken factor. That combined with the newness of the park and the absence of a DC team, and yeah, there were tons of DC area people going to Baltimore then. I live in Kensington had a mini-plan myself for the first 5 years of the Yards. But it's not really a fair comparison, since Camden Yards was the FIRST (and in many ways the best) of the Retro Parks, and as such was a tourist attraction supreme. The new Nats Park is about what, the 10th or 15th new stadium? It's nice, but it's not really that special. Plus it's VERY expensive compared to Baltimore, and much harder to get to quickly from outside the immediate area.

One fact that works against the Nats isn't given much ink: What historic fan base exists in DC is largely American League oriented. There were as many Yankees and Red Sox caps in RFK when those teams played there in 2006 as there have been in Baltimore. Plus the National League has no team like the Yanks or Boston that are guaranteed road sellouts. I'd bet that if the Nats were in the AL, even if they floundered for a few years they'd draw MUCH better than they will as an NL team. It's a nasty stereotype, and it's likely little more than a short term phenomenon, but a lot of fans around here really do think of the NL as a quasi-minor league. I guess you can blame the Yankees and Red Sox for that.

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