Sports bubble watch: Yanks draw another record low

And it’s another record low attendance at the New York Yankees‘ new stadium:

An announced crowd of 40,081 came to the Bronx on Thursday night to watch Yankees-White Sox, setting a new low for attendance at the new Yankee Stadium.

The previous low was an announced crowd of 40,267 on April 5. Capacity at the new Stadium is a little over 52,000.

In case you’re wondering how overall MLB attendance is doing so far this year, it’s down about 2.3% at the moment, in line with the last time I checked, as well as with the per-season average over the last three years. It’s not a crisis just yet, but it is definitely a trend — and a further sign that the sports ticket price bubble is still deflating.

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13 comments on “Sports bubble watch: Yanks draw another record low

  1. Hey Neil,

    You were name-checked in a recent article at Deadspin (Deadspin! You’ve arrived!) that broke down the MLB’s ticket decline and generally summed it up to a preference for Television broadcasts (which are more lucrative apparently).

    My question: do you think the initiative for new stadiums across all four major sports signify a ‘last gasp’ effort to lure ticket-buying fans in an age of new media?

  2. The initiative has been happening for the last 20 years, at least. Attendance over that period has increased, in general, for all four major sports. Now, it’s only a select few that are playing in “inadequate” facilities, so I think the initiative is largely over. And if you had told me five years ago of the economic crisis that our country would go through, I would have predicted the economic damage to sports would be much, much worse.

  3. What Brian said. If anything, the push for new stadiums has driven the ticket bubble that is now popping – it’s hard to charge people $200 to watch a Tuesday night game against the Royals if you’re not at least giving them a private entrance and built-in cupholders.

    And as much as I appreciate getting love from Deadspin (they’ve actually cited me before – see their “Why Your Stadium Sucks” series entry on Yankee Stadium), I don’t especially agree with them that MLB doesn’t care about selling tickets when it can sell HDTV subscriptions. First off, you can’t sell beer to people who are sitting on their couches; second, a lot of that TV money (and all of the mlb.tv money) is going to the league’s central fund, not the individual teams. So the incentive for teams to get fans out to the ballpark is actually *greater* as more people watch on the computer instead of the cable box.

  4. I think the real answer to both questions – why attendance is down and the sports bubble hasn’t collapsed – is because of the online options people have for buying tickets through sites like Stub Hub and local sites like Craigslist.

    I’ve bought many tickets to my local pro team here at a fraction of the price through stubhub. So while the team still gets me through the door they don’t get me paying the full fare to them for attending. And the tickets that I’ll be buying are usually those from a season ticket subscriber. Hence, why the attendance number doesn’t go up.

    For the hassle that is buying from ticket master I usually go straight to a place like Stub Hub and get the exact tickets where I want for what I want to pay.

    And no, I neither work for nor own stock in Stub Hub. Sorry if this came off as a spam post.

  5. Is there any reason to think that generally lousy weather over most of the country has something to do with this?

  6. I think one aspect not being mentioned is that the younger fans come out in less numbers than they used to. My nephews and nieces don’t follow baseball like we did when we were in our 20’s. 30 years ago there was no real video game market, nor the X games, or the WWE, or MMA. These are the things taking away younger fandom for baseball. When fans in their 40’s and 50’s stop hassling going to the games, there’s not younger fans to replace them.

  7. I think Yankee attendance is down because many season ticketholders gave up their seats because of losing the ability to go to every playoff game with the half year package. In addition the atmosphere is not as good in the new stadium because of the way that it was built and also because fans that sat near each other for years in the infield seats have been priced out.

    It is still hard to believe that Yankee management signed off on a new way of doing business when the old way was working so well. The truth is that attendance in the building is off almost 15,000 per game from the prior stadium.

  8. I agree with Joe.

    I used to follow standings and pennant races in the ’60s. Now with expanding playoffs it just doesn’t matter anymore.

    Also, ticket prices used to be cheap; it wasn’t a big deal for one father to bring a couple of his son’s friends along to the game. I doubt that happens much any longer.

    Part of what I object to with subsidizing stadiums is that the games are getting to be entertainment for the well off. I’ve really noticed this at Warrior basketball and Shark’s hockey games.

    I mean, I can get a decent opera or good ballet seat in SF for the price of a Shark’s ticket.

  9. We’ve seldom attended pro-sporting events as a family, not just because of the cost, but because of the behavior/language/drinking of the fans in the stands (hockey and baseball). Only the Earthquakes (soccer) had fans who did not use foul language/drink excessively etc. in front of children. We’ve attended many college sporting events, and they are both far cheaper than pro-sports, the fans have always behaved in a manner conducive to bringing children to games. The San Jose Giants minor league team are a pleasure to watch as a family, and the whole atmosphere is family friendly. For people who want to bring their kids, that can be a huge factor.

  10. Not to play Devil’s advocate, SantaClaraTaxpayer, but I’m on the flip side of that coin. I’m in my mid-30s with no intention ever to have kids, if anything some ballparks have become TOO family friendly. I quit attending minor league baseball games [local Chicago suburbs Kane County Cougars Class-A Athletics] despite its free parking & very cheap tickets. At 14,000+ capacity along with the circus atmosphere, it just got too loud, too much infants crying, too many kids to be an enjoyable experience. It just seemed like a giant birthday party at McD’s more than people actually watching the games.

    I don’t think kids truly appreciate going to a big league game, not to mention it’s an absolutely horrible value & even worse if the kids want food or souvenirs. Starting off at minor league games is a better value & more suited.

    Sometimes places need to be adults-only (because adults NEED a place) and I enjoy a little rowdiness & profanity that you see at professional stadiums. Sometimes Rated-R is better than Rated-G. MLB needs to realize that they will never, ever have attendance figures as good as the 1990s in the sport’s absolute peak along with 4 expansion teams to pad numbers, and need to realize that attendance is going to inevitably slide for years, but someday the kids will grow up and attend big league games. Of course MLB has no patience for such things, and pull ever lame gimmick out of the bag to lure in fans, no matter how offensive it is to purists.

  11. Mark,

    I’m not sure I agree with your sentiment that “kids will grow up and attend big league games.”

    I kind of think that this practice is like smoking in that one needs to start early or the habit is never formed.

    I do agree with you about disruptive kids (if they’re too young to pay attention).

  12. Mark – I see your point. We went to pro-league games with our kids because they played those sports (little league and AYSO soccer for example) and they knew the game and we wanted them to see how it’s played by the big boys (and girls for soccer). Likewise, we’ve gone to college level games too so our kids could see the sports they play as played by college-aged adults, including aquatics. We didn’t take them when they were really little – that would have been a waste of money.

  13. Santa Clara Taxpayer,

    I hate to be a Bringdown. But Earthquakes fans are using profanity in front of your kids.

    This profanity is in Spanish. But they are still yelling the same things at Galaxy players that Giants fans yell at Dodgers’ players. Just in a different language.

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