Where Rob Neyer is Wrong on Baseball's Declining Attendance
A bit of an odd post from Rob Neyer today. The headline asks “Does MLB Have an Attendance Problem?,” to which Neyer answers, “No.” But it's the way he answers no.
If you average every teamís attendance so far and compare it to that exact amount of games last year, Major League Baseball is only averaging 304 fans fewer per game than last year. While that 1 percent drop is significant, itís not as much as I would have thought from some of the pictures Iíve seen.
Rovell goes on to say that the situation is still worrisome since MLB attendance has decreased every year, and 8 percent overall, from its record high in 2007. But Neyer didn't seem to read that far down. In his post, Neyer writes:
[The one-percent drop is] worth mentioning, but certainly might be attributed to lousy weather or a particular team's issues.
Lousy weather I'll buy. But a particular team's issues? There are only two issues with baseball teams, winning and losing, so there's always parity there. As one team begins to lose (and attendance drops), another team begins to win (and attendance rises).
Then Neyer writes something worthy of Bud Selig:
But I'm highly confident that ticket prices increased by more than one percent this season, and for that and many other reasons I'm extremely confident that MLB's revenues will be up once again. Which is most of the thing, really. If revenues are up, everybody's happy and nobody's agitating for some idiotic stance in the labor negotiations.
Which is most of the thing? Since when did Neyer start writing from a revenue perspective, which is the owner's perspective? It's clear that attendance is down because the economy's down, and has been since 2007. But it's also down because MLB's fan base isn't made up of baseball fans anymore. Look at postseason ratings, which are abyssmal. For most of the last 20 years, MLB has worked to make a day at the park a kind of sportsotainment outing, with loud music, crazy food, video races, and fuzzy mascots. That game between the lines? Whatever. Now MLB has the kinds of fans it deserves.
Real baseball fans can't abandon baseball no matter the economy. Non-fans, sportsotainment fans, can do so easily, and are doing so. To me, that's most of the thing.
No surprise: The second-biggest drop in attendance this year is in Seattle: -23%