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June 07, 2010
Times blames Mets' ticket sales on road losses
Not to keep picking on the New York Times' Ken Belson, but it's just so easy, especially when he writes stuff like this:
Every time the Mets compile an impressive homestand, they undo the good feeling with an atrocious road trip. And because many fans consider the team's most recent performance when deciding whether to attend a home game, the Mets' buzz-killing road losses (including the game-winning grand slam that sunk the Mets on Wednesday in San Diego) have taken their toll. ... It seems the team's contrasting home and road records are making it harder for fans to justify running out to Citi Field.
The notion that fans are staying away from Mets games, not because the team was terrible last year or ticket prices are too high or the stadium honeymoon has worn off, but because they win too many games at home might seem too plainly demented to debunk ... but I've done so anyway for the Village Voice. The short version: All teams coming off of lousy years draw lousy, and the Mets' attendance was artificially inflated last year already with curiosity-seekers looking to check out their new digs. But why settle for facts when you can instead choose the contrarian wisdom that Mets fans are being driven away by the bad taste of giving up 18 runs in a road game that ended at 1:20 pm local time?
It's sad, but this seems to be the standard fare in sports reporting these days. "Fans aren't coming because the team lost".
Look up the definition of 'fan', Mr. Belson.
No true fan would stay away for such a reason, as we Cub fans can attest (ok, only for the last century...) There are many reasons to stay away from the ballpark, chief among them predatory pricing practices (see Cubs, again).
During the depression (no, the last one) baseball always made sure fans could afford to attend the games. Not so these days... MLB has forgotten how it came to be the "entertainment of the people" - by being attainable to fans of even very modest means.
It will be interesting to see how this affects the sport's popularity in twenty years, when the kids who can't afford to watch games now are old enough to make their own discretionary spending choices.
Not going to see a team (or going to see them as much, anyway) because they stink, I can see — after enough years of Doug Flynn, I stopped going regularly to Mets games, too. But refusing to go to home games because they only win at home? Wha?
In any case, the attendance stats show no evidence for this, as I explain in the Voice article. Think the Times will run a correction?
Nope. Not even if someone offers to pay to run it...
I'm troubled by the public indifference toward/acceptance of unsubstantiated claims about the economic benefit of (grandiose) new facilities. Perhaps indifference is not the right word... at times it seems there is a willful ignorance of the facts to go along with the blind acceptance of the claims...
Having kept an eye on most of the new facilities built in the last dozen years or so, I note that the vast majority built with 100% private funds have tended to cost $2k per seat or less (an inexact comparison method, given the infrastructure requirements, but it works).
Those funded mainly by tax dollars average around $7500/seat, topping out somewhere north of $20k for NY's latest Steinbrenner support initiative.
It's very hard not to draw a lesson from this...
Attendance is way down in MLB because it's run by an idiot commissioner who kisses the rich owners behinds. He's the little dog that can't. MLB needs a big dog that will run it for the good of the game and not a few greedy owners. Bart Giamatti we miss you.