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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nationals On Pace to Set Attendance Low for New Ballpark

With two games left at home, the Washington Nationals are on the cusp of having the worst opening-year attendance of any new ballpark in the Camden Yards era – the period of rapid ballpark construction beginning after Oriole Park at Camden Yards was opened in 1992 and the incredible success it generated for the team. And, while Camden Yards is considered the ballpark – the gold standard, if you will – of the throwback ballpark craze that has swept MLB, it really got moving with the White Sox’ New Comiskey Park, or as it is now called, U.S. Cellular Field.

As I said, there is a mathematical chance that the Nationals will not own this dubious distinction. 58,158 fans is all that separates attendance at Nationals Park from the worst first-year attendance of all the stadiums which opened in the last 17 years, the Reds’ Great American Ball Park that opened in 2003. That year, the Reds had paid attendance of 2,355,259. With two games left to play in Nationals Park, the Nats have drawn an anemic 2,297,101. In their last four games, three of which were played on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – traditionally the best days of the week for attendance – the Nationals have averaged 26,585. That same average in their two remaining games against the Marlins would not be enough to keep Nationals Park from becoming the worst attended new ballpark opening since 1991.

First in War, First in Peace, Last in… Everything Else.

Gamingboy Posted: September 24, 2008 at 02:48 PM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 24, 2008 at 03:18 PM (#2952739)
Well, somebody has to be last.
   2. WhoWantsTeixeiraDessert Posted: September 24, 2008 at 03:26 PM (#2952759)
I guess it's the opposite of a yogism, nobody goes there, it's not crowded enough.
   3. WhoWantsTeixeiraDessert Posted: September 24, 2008 at 03:28 PM (#2952760)
We will not support "America"'s pastime, until "America" gives us congressional representation!
   4. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: September 24, 2008 at 03:35 PM (#2952767)
This will not be to the liking of the "let's-put-another-team-in-NY" clique, but I really don't buy the reasoning that large attendance is a given year-in / year-out just because a city gets a new team or even if it also gets a new stadium.

I think you have to slowly but surely build bonds with the fan base.

That's very difficult to do if you have a sucky team, even if the fan base is grateful to have a team, and even if your new stadium is great (though obviously having a great stadium is better than playing in Joe Robbie or the Trop) and accessible (I've read some complaints about the accessibility of the Nats stadium, since it can only be reached by one subway line).

Having written the above, the Nats will still get 2.3 MM fans this year. That's a little less than 30K per game, which is not exactly Olympic Stadium at its worst, you know.....
   5. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 24, 2008 at 03:42 PM (#2952776)
Well, I went last Saturday. Did my part!
   6. Maury Brown Posted: September 24, 2008 at 03:44 PM (#2952778)
FYI... A reader noted that I missed Jacobs Field and the Ballpark at Arlington, both of which opened in in the strike shortened 1994 season. Will be working up the projected total attendance and updating shortly. Can tell you that they are both above the Nationals attendance this year.
   7. shozzlekhan Posted: September 24, 2008 at 04:04 PM (#2952807)
Well thank God they got out of Montreal.
   8. John DiFool2 Posted: September 24, 2008 at 04:06 PM (#2952810)
Almost all of the 20-something guys whom the Nats had gathered up and planned to make starters fell collectively on their bats. Jesus Flores, Felipe Lopez, Ryan Zimmerman, Wily Mo, Lastings, Austin Kearns, Nick Johnson all had off-years at best, catastrophic drops at worst (in productivity and/or injury-free time), or simply haven't developed (Zim, Lastings). Only Elijah Dukes and maybe John Lannan exceeded expectations. Get some of these guys healthy and/or developing and Washington has an exciting young team. Yeah they still wouldn't have won anything but they might have been more appealing to watch.
   9. jwb Posted: September 24, 2008 at 04:09 PM (#2952814)
(I've read some complaints about the accessibility of the Nats stadium, since it can only be reached by one subway line).
I don't buy that line of reasoning. The same is true of Wrigley, The Cell, and Fenway. Are the New York stadiums' subway stations transfer points?

Edit: And of course the Senators II peaked at 918,106, so this is a bit of an improvement.
   10. Van Lingle Mungo Jerry Posted: September 24, 2008 at 04:10 PM (#2952819)
The 7 train is the only subway line that goes to Shea, although there is an LIRR commuter rail station next door as well.
   11. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 24, 2008 at 04:10 PM (#2952820)
Yankee Stadium is, Shea isn't. (Though Shea does have a LIRR stop.)
   12. flournoy Posted: September 24, 2008 at 04:12 PM (#2952826)
As the table in the article illustrates, they're also going to finish with the worst record of any team to open a new ballpark in this era. Mathematically, they could still beat the Devil Rays or tie the Marlins, but let's be serious. I'll bet there's a correlation. The Devil Rays, Marlins, and Diamondbacks also benefited from being first year expansion teams in those seasons.
   13. jmurph Posted: September 24, 2008 at 04:33 PM (#2952857)
I don't buy that line of reasoning. The same is true of Wrigley, The Cell, and Fenway. Are the New York stadiums' subway stations transfer points?


On paper it's not that difficult, but within the context of living/working/commuting in and around DC, it's kind of a pain in the butt. Most people don't live on the green line, most people don't ever take the green line, and that stop on the metro just flat out sucks. It really should be designed so the doors open on both sides of the train. But, you know, they only had 3 years to get it right...

Driving isn't so bad if you have 2 or more people- the cheap lot is $15; only problem is it's hidden beneath an overpass and is kind of hard to find.

EDIT: It's entirely possible I'm just being a lazy bastard; I typically have a no transfer policy- if I can't get there on foot or on the red line, I'm either driving or not going.
   14. TerpNats Posted: September 24, 2008 at 04:47 PM (#2952874)
EDIT: It's entirely possible I'm just being a lazy bastard; I typically have a no transfer policy- if I can't get there on foot or on the red line, I'm either driving or not going.
Aw, poor baby...afraid to transfer at Fort Totten (or Gallery Place).

But jmurph has a point when saying "most people don't ever take the green line." It begins, and ends, in Prince George's County, the poor relation of D.C. suburbs; about the only place of note it goes to other than the ballpark (and downtown D.C.) is the University of Maryland, and even then it's not all that close to the campus. One wonders how attendance might be had the other main site for the ballpark been used, near New York and Florida avenues off the red line, which begins and ends in far wealthier Montgomery County, Md., and has substantially more ridership than the green line.
   15. jmurph Posted: September 24, 2008 at 05:16 PM (#2952914)
Aw, poor baby...afraid to transfer at Fort Totten (or Gallery Place).


Nah, it's a combination of monumental impatience and extreme laziness. Though, perhaps paradoxically, I don't mind walking from the Eastern Market stop if I'm going straight from work.
   16. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 24, 2008 at 05:18 PM (#2952917)
Driving isn't so bad if you have 2 or more people- the cheap lot is $15; only problem is it's hidden beneath an overpass and is kind of hard to find.
That's where I parked! It really is a ######## of a parking lot.
   17. jmurph Posted: September 24, 2008 at 05:21 PM (#2952924)
That's where I parked! It really is a ######## of a parking lot.


My friend and I prepaid for that lot, then proceeded to drive in circles for 15 minutes or so looking for it. Nobody on the street had ever heard of it, and there didn't seem to be any signs. Outstanding.
   18. Answer Guy. Posted: September 24, 2008 at 05:33 PM (#2952945)
VAw, poor baby...afraid to transfer at Fort Totten (or Gallery Place).

But jmurph has a point when saying "most people don't ever take the green line." It begins, and ends, in Prince George's County, the poor relation of D.C. suburbs; about the only place of note it goes to other than the ballpark (and downtown D.C.) is the University of Maryland, and even then it's not all that close to the campus.


Fort Totten (above ground) when the weather's nice, Gallery Place (underground) when it's not.

A lot of the neighborhoods on the Green Line are up and coming - Penn Quarter, U Street, Columbia Heights - and it does have Greenbelt Station, a giant commuter lot that's right off I-95 and is generally the stop of choice for commuters from Greater Baltimore and other points northeast of DC. (Of course, you'd expect people who live towards Baltimore to be less interested in the Nats than other area residents.)
   19. Answer Guy. Posted: September 24, 2008 at 05:34 PM (#2952948)
There's another problem. There's nothing else besides the ballpark there to attract people; no place to hang around before or after games. The only eating and drinking options are in the ballpark and they're insanely overpriced.
   20. zack Posted: September 24, 2008 at 05:35 PM (#2952950)
If the fact that you have to transfer to get to Navy Yard, which is all of 200 yards from the main gate, is what is keeping people from the stadium, then just burn this city to the ground. The transfer heading in is going to be a 5 minute wait at worst, 10 minute on the way out.

I ride a bike to the stadium and use the free valet. It's awesome.
   21. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 24, 2008 at 05:36 PM (#2952953)
then just burn this city to the ground.

Shhh! A lot of people are looking for a reason right about now...
   22. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: September 24, 2008 at 05:38 PM (#2952957)
The same is true of Wrigley, The Cell, and Fenway.

It's not really true of Fenway. You can take the B, C, or D lines to Kenmore, St. Mary's, or Fenway, respectively.
   23. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 24, 2008 at 05:42 PM (#2952965)
It's not really true of Fenway. You can take the B, C, or D lines to Kenmore, St. Mary's, or Fenway, respectively.

When I was at Fenway, I just parked at the big shopping mall thingy they have and walked to the stadium and then drove right onto the freeway and out of town afterwards. It wasn't bad. I had an easy time of it in Boston.
   24. Stevis Posted: September 24, 2008 at 05:51 PM (#2952986)
If the fact that you have to transfer to get to Navy Yard, which is all of 200 yards from the main gate, is what is keeping people from the stadium, then just burn this city to the ground. The transfer heading in is going to be a 5 minute wait at worst, 10 minute on the way out.


I come in off the Yellow Line from VA; it's not the transfer there (though it's usually hideously crowded), it's the ride home--when Metro employees insist you keep moving down the platform, even past where the train will actually end; when they tell you to move down, as there are half-empty cars, and then close them before you can get there; when the Yellow line doesn't come for 25 minutes at L'Enfant on a weekday game night.

Alright, the last was true when they played at RFK anyway. But with two lines going in there, some of the initial crush was divided up (going to and coming from.)

Anyway, Metro does not make gameday particularly pleasant. I would tend to agree though that the Nats on the field not making gameday particularly pleasant is a bigger factor. Check out the Capitals attendance this year; the town will support a winner, but will ignore a non-Potatoes loser.
   25. Babe Adams Posted: September 24, 2008 at 06:27 PM (#2953034)
Not on the list, but the Pirates drew 2,464,870 in their first season at PNC.
   26. Mr. Hotfoot Jackson (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: September 24, 2008 at 07:00 PM (#2953074)
then just burn this city to the ground.

Shhh! A lot of people are looking for a reason right about now...


Capital (no pun intended) idea! During the presidential inauguration (no matter who wins ... humanity would be better off without the parasites who attend these absurd events) &/or while Congress is in session would, of course, be preferable.
   27. Maury Brown Posted: September 24, 2008 at 07:10 PM (#2953083)
FYI... the table within the article has now been updated with projected attendance for Jacobs Field and the Ballpark at Arlington, which opened during the strike shortened year of 1994. Projections are based upon average attendance and shown within the footnotes of the table.
   28. John M. Perkins Posted: September 24, 2008 at 07:15 PM (#2953093)
First in peace, first in war, last in the American League
oops, National League,
forget it, last in the Major Leagues.
   29. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: September 24, 2008 at 07:39 PM (#2953138)
From the Sporting News:

The shotgun marriage of Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten and general manager Jim Bowden should end soon.

According to several major league officials, Kasten wanted to fire a member of the Nationals' scouting staff for an embarrassing display in the press box before a game at Colorado. The scout loudly and profanely criticized the Rockies' player-development operation. Bowden convinced ownership to keep the scout in question.

That showed Kasten that he lacked the authority to do the job as he did with Atlanta. As Braves president, Kasten was an unheralded hero for the manner in which he brought order to the organization and allowed the baseball operation to do its job without outside interference.

The Nationals desperately needed the same type of leadership. If Kasten leaves, as expected, it will be a huge setback for an organization mired in chaos. That seems to be Bowden's preferred manner of operation.


And the hits just keep on comin'!
   30. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 24, 2008 at 07:40 PM (#2953141)
And the hits just keep on comin'!

Bowden over Kastens? Wow. Is Bowden the new Millen?
   31. . Posted: September 24, 2008 at 07:48 PM (#2953147)
Bowden over Kastens? Wow. Is Bowden the new Millen?

Not exactly. Millen got fired today.
   32. Maury Brown Posted: September 24, 2008 at 07:49 PM (#2953149)
Kasten walks, and I don't see how Selig would continue to back the Lerners. Disgraceful.
   33. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 24, 2008 at 07:51 PM (#2953151)
Not exactly. Millen got fired today.

That's what I mean. We need someone to take Millen's place as the most inexplicably employed gm of a major sports team.
   34. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: September 24, 2008 at 07:51 PM (#2953153)
Kasten walks, and I don't see how Selig would continue to back the Lerners.

Because he picked them in the first place?

And, because he picked Kasten to be with them, I'm just guessing that Kasten won't in fact being going anywhere. Just a hunch.
   35. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 24, 2008 at 07:53 PM (#2953155)
Kasten walks, and I don't see how Selig would continue to back the Lerners. Disgraceful.

What's he going to do, use his commissioner powers to reverse the earth's spin and let George Soros buy the team or just keep them in Montreal? Seems likes Bud's made his bed here.
   36. franc-tireur Posted: September 24, 2008 at 08:18 PM (#2953190)
Kasten walks, and I don't see how Selig would continue to back the Lerners. Disgraceful.

What do you mean?
   37. sbiel2 Posted: September 24, 2008 at 10:56 PM (#2953321)
There have been noises from the beginning that Kasten hates that cretin Bowden. This could be a public threat to try to angle Bowden out. Kasten has to have friends around the league and in the league office who are calling Mark right now.
   38. TerpNats Posted: September 24, 2008 at 11:07 PM (#2953326)
There have been noises from the beginning that Kasten hates that cretin Bowden. This could be a public threat to try to angle Bowden out. Kasten has to have friends around the league and in the league office who are calling Mark right now.
MLB has to be concerned about where this market is going, due to dreadful ownership...it's rapidly deteriorating into a northern Miami.
   39. Darnell McDonald had a farm Posted: September 24, 2008 at 11:07 PM (#2953329)
I'm gonna file this one under "That's what happens when you suck"
   40. Maury Brown Posted: September 24, 2008 at 11:27 PM (#2953353)
Selecting Bowden over Kasten would leap the Lerners over Loria. Heck, Ted might wind up making Short look good at this rate.
   41. Maury Brown Posted: September 24, 2008 at 11:29 PM (#2953359)
Oh and on the Nationals having the worst first season record, the Pirates graced PNC Park with 100 losses.
   42. TerpNats Posted: September 24, 2008 at 11:47 PM (#2953409)
Heck, Ted might wind up making Short look good at this rate.
What? Is Lerner going to capitalize on Senators nostalgia and hold Ladies Nights with free pantyhose?

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