27 November 2007

Attendance Thread

Arizona Gets An "F"

Arizona received an ""F" for economic prosperity from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, joining Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Nevada at the bottom of the national class. We mention this with regard to Diamondback ticket prices and how the club has marketed itself in the Valley recently.

Team strategy in this rather dreary economic market, as repeatedly voiced by President Derrick Hall, has been to claim baseball's "lowest ticket prices" without actually delivering on that promise.

According to the 2006 TMR, Diamondback prices rank 18th, slightly lower than MLB average. What's more, the TMR reflects season ticket prices and doesnt account for a) single game price differentials or b) "premium" game price differentials - both of which the Diamondbacks exploit to unusual advantage by MLB standards. For example, almost a fourth of the Diamondbacks home schedule (20 games) are designated "premium" games. Contrast that with the number of "premium" games hiked elsewhere within the division:

Colorado 14
San Francisco 13
San Diego 8
Los Angeles 0

That's certainly not to say tickets in the lucrative LA market are cheaper overall, but merely to point out costs hidden from the TMR rankings, above. An even greater hidden cost is single game differentials (the premium over season ticket price that single game buyers pay) . It's harder to get a quantitative handle on that because each section in each stadium is different, but a quick eyeball of the Chase seating chart reflects some enormous differentials.

In the middle deck, single game purchasers pay between 25% to 78% more than season ticket holders. My old seats in Section 118, within one of the largest seating area pricepoints, tack on a 61% differential. It bears mentioning that the largest seating area in the entire ballpark (the huge red upper deck area on the map) also sports the largest price differential - a whopping 87% - considerably more in real terms after various single game online fees. Lower differentials can be found in the bleachers (25%) and the $5 area (0%), but a look around MLB's various club ticket portals show Chase differentials to be among the highest in baseball.

All this to say, that in real pocketbook terms, Diamondback baseball tickets are somewhere around the MLB average, perhaps even a little higher. In one of only five states with an "F" prosperity rating. Some might say that metro statistics would be more relevant than state stats here and they'd be right - but keep in mind that most of Arizona's population resides in Maricopa County and Greater Phoenix Metro - the primary catchment area for Diamondback ticket buyers - unlike Texas or California, whose massive, dispersed populations influence their state economic ratings more than one metro area. Besides, Phoenix has the lowest personal income of any MLB city, slightly below Tampa, and far behind many MLB cities. Louisiana, Arkansas and Nevada pretty much speak for themselves.

The Diamondbacks can charge whatever they want for tickets. But their endless list of excuses for their astonishingly low attendance (given a surging first place team), is a steady source of amusement. At least here. The fans dont understand baseball. The fan base is transient. The fans dont understand the team is good and in first place. School is in session. We're doing everything we can to get fans to the ballpark. Blah, blah, blah.
Economic prosperity isnt the only thing in Arizona that deserves an "F".

14 September 2007 at 12:55 PM in Arizona, Attendance Permalink Comments (10)

Thank You

Today is a very good day in Diamondbacks history. There have been over a thousand days since the 2004 junta expelled Jerry Colangelo and revoked his check writing privileges, and Diamondhacks has chronicled The Subsequent Horror. But today, let it be said, a very good thing happened.
It's not that the Diamondbacks are in first place, taking two of three from the Cubs. A fun thing. An improbable thing.
It's not that Chase drew 46K Saturday night. A Cubs thing. A bobblehead and fireworks thing. But you're getting warmer.
Today, something happened that was more than just fun. Something good.

Today, the Diamondbacks finally slashed prices in their club level seats, so that people will actually sit in them and share in the enjoyment of a first place team. The current promo, cleverly titled D*Votion, entails the usual restrictions (10 ticket minimum) and online fees (about 15% extra) and the unpleasant fact that every purchaser gets a Sedona Red T-shirt as part of the package. But I'm trying to stay positive in the face of these little indignities. This is the real world, and if this front office does ninety nine out of a hundred things wrong, it is my distinct pleasure to applaud them when they do something right.

This is how you start to mend fences and rebuild a fan base that you've systematically fractured. It probably wasnt easy - abandoning the model of "exclusion and illusion" - excluding "casual" fans with high single game prices to fabricate the illusion that season ticket holders are getting a fantastic deal by default. Season ticket holders already get a decent deal - you didnt have to extort the rest of us so they could sleep better at night about their investment, visions of Ticket Marketplace dancing in their heads.

This isnt just about the money. Like many fans, I could buy a $50 seat whenever I want. But I dont like the feeling of being ripped off on MLB's terms. So, meet me half way. Club level $23? To root for a first place team? It's a deal. Today, you didnt just slash prices. Today, you peeled away the first layer of what has been the steepest price for fans to pay - the hardest thing for many of us to overlook - your thinly veiled contempt for the customer. I feel like you finally, seriously, want me in your house.

I dont like your colors. From day one, I havent cared for your tone. But I've always loved baseball and a fair shake. So here's $233.50 from me to you, that you wouldnt otherwise have had. It's my way of saying "Thanks".

(image courtesy of joanndesigns.com)
26 August 2007 at 05:52 PM in Attendance, Front Office Permalink Comments (5)

WWKD (What Would Kerry Do?)

Aided by cases of Mark Grace bobblehead dolls and a postgame fireworks extravaganza, and abetted by 20,000 Cubs fans, the Sedona Astros sufficiently coaxed more than 40K people into The Morg Saturday night. Who knows, with massage tables and fe11atio kiosks, maybe the place would've finally sold out.

In the end, 46173 showed up, regardless of how they were manipulated, or by whom. The throng reminded me of a Cubs game here years ago, when my expansion Diamondbacks were ensconced in last place. There was no hope of a pennant race. There was no fireworks. There were no bobblehead dolls. There was only major league baseball at reasonable prices on a Monday night. Well that, and 47129 people, but who's counting.

Baseball fans in Phoenix (yes, Virginia, there really were such creatures) were mesmerized by a 20 year old Chicago rookie - as old as Justin Upton is now - by the name of Kerry Wood. In his previous start against the Astros, before just 15 thousand "knowledgeable fans" at Wrigley, he had struck out 20 batters, a feat unrealized in 122 years of National League play. ( His 105 Game Score that day was also the highest of any pitcher in history.)

An older, slower Wood pitched last night as well, ostensibly in relief, but back then there was no relief - at least not for hitters. Only 98 gas at the letters and the sharpest breaking curveball I ever saw. He whiffed thirteen Dbacks that 1998 evening - in seven innings - without breaking much of a sweat. The thirty three strikeouts over consecutive starts set yet another all time MLB record.

Oh, there were more polished power pitchers. Randy Johnson comes to mind. I later saw him fan twenty from the same seat. But no one had pure stuff like Kerry Wood; the hop that made major leaguers swing at fastballs around their eyes, and a righthanded curve that turned all batter's legs to sand. Yes, even left handed batters.

Over the years, Wood's once brilliant flame has barely flickered in danger of being extinguished, much like the darling desert franchise he competed against that long ago day. In the case of Wood, injuries cast him into the shadows. In the case of current Diamondback incarnations, mostly petty greed.

(photos courtesy of biblicalstudies.ca & www2.jsonline.com)
26 August 2007 at 10:42 AM in Attendance Permalink Comments (0)

Dbacks Fascinate Valley

What's there to add to the cessation of Brandon Webb's consecutive scoreless innings streak, other than another "Bravo", or perhaps copiously cursing Prince Fielder? Contextually, it's very impressive, as Webb shut out the heavy hitting Atlanta Braves on the road, and stacked 15 scoreless at home in one of baseball's most notorious hitter's parks. In a hitter's era.

Or as Mark Grace, described it, the "steroids era". Now I know people are hitting homers at alarming rates, compared to days of yore, but isnt that primarily because stadiums are smaller, players are more athletic and bats are thinner than when Phil Rizzuto and Nellie Fox (with his bottle bat) were league MVPs? Isnt the steroids era, like, supposed to be over? In light of Commissioner Selig's defense of MLB's drug testing policy as "the toughest in all of sports", isnt it revealing - and unsettling - to hear a very well connected ex player casually refer to today, 2007, as the "steroids era"?

This wouldn't be Diamondhacks (whatever that is), if we didnt take a quick look at Chase Field attendance for Webb's historic appearance. The Brewers ordinarily wouldnt be a big draw on Wednesday night, but this is no ordinary Crew, tied for first in the Central when the night began. Arizona, of course, has been pulling away in the West, playing the first late season games of consequence since 2002-2003. Most important, one would expect fans to flock to the ballpark to cheer on the likable Webb, who had garnered more instant national attention for his bag of tricks than any Diamondback since Jason Grimsley. Team broadcasters pleaded ceaselessly with folks to visit Chase and share in the moment. You could hear the buzz in town - at water coolers and restaurants - and not just from sports fans. It was the kind of vibe we havent felt in a while. Turned out to be a 31720 "vibe".

They couldnt even draw 32 with a capacity just shy of 50. It's a disgrace, really. I agree with the fanboys on that much - but the willfully blind who reflexively rail against this "lousy sports town" ignore the true source of the disgrace: the huge fracture in the franchise fan base, arrogantly cultivated by the current front office "saviors". To their credit, Kendrick and Moorad have finally toned down their yearlong, unsuccessful "campaign of shame" to drive attendance in favor of a kinder, gentler approach.

Oh, heaven forbid, they'e not lowering ticket prices or anything like that - but at least their company mouthpieces have taken a brief hiatus from excoriating their customer base to insincerely praise them. Sutton and Grace positively gushed about the 31,270. Yeah, guys. What a triumph. More characteristically, Kendrick and Moorad have dispatched 'crisis communicator' Derrick Hall to work overtime to rectify the...um...crisis; akin to farmers introducing a wolf to the chicken coop to help with the production of eggs.

That said, visibly poor attendance ought not to be an issue from here on out. Our green and increasingly red, publicly financed hangar will be full of Cub fans this weekend, cheering on their divison leader - followed by an NL West showdown with San Diego. And Diamondback fans should take note of Thursday's back n forth slugfest at Shea, where the Pads outlasted the Mets despite some shaky pitching by the boys off the Coronado. Not just because the come from behind victory leaves San Diego three back in the standings, but because of the way they pulled out the game.

Cla Meredith yielded a crushing 3 run jack to Marlon Anderson in the sixth, putting the Mets ahead 7-6, and igniting the dysfunctional mob of more than 50,000. It looked over - a time for lesser clubs to pack it in. But the pesky Petcos pieced together an improbable, two run, ninth inning rally off Wagner, just his third blown save all year, to recapture the lead. Then Trevor Hoffman blew the save, facilitated by a Reyes-Castillo double steal, taking the air out of the visitors. Once again, with all the momentum leaning the home team's way, Adrian Gonzalez blasted a solo shot off Aaron Heilman to quiet the crowd and provide a margin just barely enough for Heath Bell to eke out his first save of the season. It wasnt just a "close" game. It was a game illustrating the Padres resilience under tough circumstances, suggesting a tenacious will.
A game after which, in the postgame cooldown, you kind of shake your head, wondering how you managed to win the game with all those negatives working against you. The Diamondbacks should be very familiar with that feeling by now. Remarkably, they lead the division on the cusp of September with the West's worst run differential. Not an average run diff. Not the second worst. The worst - below the San Francisco Giants, sixteen games out.

It's fascinating to watch teams win when it's not at all clear how they do it. And thanks to the Cubs and this quizzical pennant race, more of the valley will be sitting down at Chase Field shortly, appearing properly fascinated.

(photos courtesy of salem-news.com & athlonsports.com)
24 August 2007 at 10:15 AM in Attendance, Front Office Permalink Comments (5)

A Game Broke Out At The Charity Ball

Tonight could be a special night, with Brandon Webb trying to surpass Sal Maglie and Bob Gibson on his consecutive scoreless innings streak, currrently at 42. And we're genuinely looking forward to it. Last night wasn't nearly as special, and it wasnt just because of the 7-4 loss to the Brewers in a game that wasnt that close.

Sideline reporter Todd Walsh encountered a representative from AFLAC Tuesday evening, who we quickly learned partnered with the Diamondbacks to bring over a hundred kids from Phoenix Children's Hospital to the game. Nice. The thrust of the piece, and indeed of the entire nine inning telecast, was that Dbacks ownership is charitable, good hearted, community based, etc. Which is fine, to a point. Every MLB franchise has a charitable arm and derives customer good will from strategically advertising that fact.

While some hardliners might argue true charity is not boastful, even I recognize the corporate quid pro quo and dont begrudge it, in principle. Charity is charity, and charity is good. But at what point, practically speaking, does that customer good will become compromised by self-service, or even cross over the line into exploitation? Last night's nine inning song and dance might prove instructive.

This was not an impromptu sit down with AFLAC, in the signature, off the cuff Walsh style. The rehearsed Diamondbacks' production went on for several minutes and included taped footage of a pregame celebration for the patients at adjacent Sliders restaurant. Todd even egged on the AFLAC representative, "inquiring" if it was true that one youthful participant came "right from chemotherapy" to attend the event. The pleasant rep hesitated, smiling nervously, before confirming that fact. The live camera honed in on a young, bald child after Walsh had droned on about the newsworthiness of management's generosity.

It wasnt until the end of the drawn out segment in the middle of a baseball game that we discovered AFLAC has similar partnerships with 18 clubs, including one established with the DBacks in 2001 during the Colangelo era. Does that make this donation any less appreciated by these kids? Of course not. But it does make it less newsworthy, I think. Less a reflection of noteworthy charitable initiative than Walsh's segment, centered on this "development", tried to convey.
This FO's reputation has taken a mighty hit here in town. In particular, fans dont care for the righteous piety dripping from the talons of brothers Ken Kendrick and Jeff Moorad - and attendance has suffered accordingly. No big secret. So, last night, they grasped a large, blunt instrument and "designed" an entire telecast infused with nine innings of nuggets beating viewers over the head as to how righteous and wonderful the "brothers" really are.

"Beat over the head" too strong? Well, let's see. There was a brief "announcement" about the St Mary's Food Bank Alliance, a longstanding partner with this club and thousands of other valley businesses. (Since I have a blog, maybe I should take this "opportunity" to "announce" that I, too, volunteer regularly @ the Food Bank. Whoop de doo!). Friday's Front Row Grill ran a sales promotion where Mark Grace "volunteered" to pay tabs, provided fans shelled out for the appropriate tickets. There was the extended, over the top, Walsh/AFLAC "interview".

And then there was Mr Derrick Hall. Under the smarmy guise of "being invited", the Team President strongarmed himself into the booth yet again to hand deliver a rapid fire series of carefully crafted, misleading "announcements". It seems he makes a "guest visit" essentially every game now. In forty years of watching baseball, I can honestly say I've never seen a baseball exec so cheerfully driven to distort reality, so desperate to shill his product entirely on his own self-servingly fabricated terms.

In order to illustrate ownership's family values, apparently, Hall went on at length, again with pretaped footage, showcasing what looked to be a chintzy, second rate kid's play area shoehorned into the least accessible, upper level corner of the stadium, in part, because his languishing titty megabar - with the $20 separate admission just beyond center field - crowded out previous ownership's play area for kids, established near that more desirable location.

Mr Hall's big "announcement", however, was that the Diamondbacks will donate $5 of every ticket sold hereon out, to Diamondbacks Charities, up to $500,000. Sounds wonderful. What's not to like? Well, that's not all he said. The reason for this, according to Hall, was that current attendance so exceeded ownership's expectations that they wanted to "reward" the fanbase for their allegiance with an "incredibly generous gesture".

Let's think about this.
Q: Has attendance exceeded ownership expectations?
A: Only they can say for sure, but it's highly implausible, given stories in the local and national press about how a first place team is underdrawing a 111 loss predecessor, by about 4K every single night - in the same market, in the same stadium. It's implausible given Sutton and Grace's on air campaign that this team "deserves more" and Grace's recent diatribe that current attendance is "unacceptable". The broadcasters are, after all, company employees, reporting directly to Hall. It's implausible given Hall's recent acknowledgement that gameday attendance wasnt commensurate with the team's high TV ratings as a result of, according to him, a lack of fan awareness that he is evidently rather feverishly trying to rectify. So, this "decision" is not based on exceeded expectations. It is driven by something else.
Q: What is really driving this decision?
A: If I've accurately described management's true position, it would seem that perhaps low attendance is driving their decision, exactly the opposite of Hall's claim.
Q: Why would he "lie" about such a thing?
A: Only Derrick knows for sure. Maybe pretending that attendance is excellent deflects from the fact it is not. Maybe pretending that fans already in attendance are somehow being "rewarded" deflects from the fact that this is a sales gimmick targeted at people who dont currently attend games. Perhaps a local journalist will inquire about these seeming contradictions.
Q: How does one "reward" fans by charging them the exact same price for tickets as before?
A: There's no reward or tangible benefit to the fans here. One could argue there's a psychological benefit, a philanthropic feeling of self esteem, but remember what Hall said. It's not the fans who are "incredibly generous" here - it's the owners. The fans role is to buy more tickets at regular club prices.
Q: Why is the donation limit set at $500,000? Why cant it keep going if we keep buying tickets? A: Most likely, because ownership has already earmarked this particular amount for charity and is now merely "tying" additional ticket sales to the previously budgeted write off. Basically an accounting gimmick to try and sell more tickets under false pretenses.
Q: You mean, if I buy these so called "Charity Tickets", I'm not really donating to charity?
A: It's hard to say, without looking at the books. Even the US Congress had difficulty with that. But if it's on the up and up, you'd think the team would be more than happy to open up the books to an inquisitive reporter who pursued the issue. And I wouldnt bet on that happening anytime soon.

22 August 2007 at 02:05 PM in Attendance, Broadcasters, Front Office, Promotions, Self Aggrandizement Permalink Comments (3)

Fans Speak Out

For several years, the Arizona Republic lazily assumed that lethargic Diamondbacks' attendance resulted primarily from subpar on field performance. So when the team catapulted into first place in mid August, and fans still didnt come, the paper (a partner of the ballclub) finally got around to polling our supposedly passive fan base about their collective absence. And they got an earful. If nothing else, it illuminates how conflicted recent local baseball allegiances have become. It's a pity, really, and we hold the new owners largely responsible. Our remarks can be found on page 8 of the copious comments.

15 August 2007 at 11:26 AM in Attendance, Front Office Permalink Comments (6)

Fall From Grace

Believe it or not, I really wanted to return from Southern California to immediately bask in some of the more recent positive D*Back developments. Family and friends managed to enjoy Webb's Sunday shutout of the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, despite their daunting lack of exposure to Alyssa Milano. Our Houston Reds are pulling away from the NL West and, amazin'ly, have more wins than the New York Mets - in mid August! But all that has to wait, at least a smidge, after enduring Mark Grace's shameless diatribe aimed at my fair burg during last night's FSNAZ Pirates telecast.

While their employers have effectively suppressed attendance via pricing policy and a litany of fan alienating moves over three years, Grace and Sutton have consistently encouraged people to come to the ballpark. That's their job and there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that.
Where Sutton, Grace and DBacks' brass err is in the shrill, disingenuous nature of their salesmanship. First came the ponderous nightly lectures about how good the team was and how people watching from home were "missing out" on the action. As if greater Phoenix had contracted communal glaucoma and was blind to what's happening out on the field. As if a sports crazy community that purchased 25 million baseball tickets over the past decade was now suddenly incapable of discerning how to best spend it's entertainment dollars.

Then came Derrick Hall's dumbed down campaign pitching the easily refuted fib that Chase Field has the lowest prices in all of baseball. There's a line, over which standard marketing, putting your best foot forward, crosses over into credibility damaging misinformation - and Derrick Hall has repeatedly proven to be as timid about crossing that Rubicon as Donald Rumsfeld. But even Hall's by now predictable hijinks pale next to Grace's scripted hissy last night. He used the telestrator to circle a large patch of empty seats in the lower bowl near third base and, for two solid minutes, scolded the entire televison audience that this was "unacceptable". He further enumerated that widespread complaints about the removal of team colors and the popular left fielder were "garbage".

You have to laugh. Here's a guy who's cashed $50 million in windfall checks from MLB ( and goodness knows how much more in peripheral endorsements ), chastising an entire city for not forking over sufficient dough to appropriately support their team - the one whose stadium most of them paid for and many of whom root for each night on television. And this isnt just any city. The hot and currently humid object of Mr Grace's calculated "wrath" sports the lowest per capita income amongst MLB's twenty seven markets. Dead last.

Beyond the indignity (or is it hilarity?) of taking instruction on such money matters from a multimillionaire shill like Grace is his stunningly angry dismissal of an enormous swath of valley fans - tens of thousands who used to come to the park regularly who now seldom do, if at all. Grace labeled these people's concerns as "garbage". Regarding the dual departure of Luis Gonzalez and the exisiting uniforms, Diamondhacks never objected to either development on its face. Instead, we excoriated the specific implementation of these changes: the callous obliteration of every vestige of the original franchise color scheme, the outright refusal to negotiate with Gonzalez on even a non substantive, courtesy level, following Kendrick's unsolicited "whispers" demurely thrust upon E.J. Montini, targeting the popular left fielder.

In the end, it doesnt matter a whole lot what I, or Mark Grace, thinks about this - or a hundred other Diamondback issues. Every Phoenician can make up their own minds about this team and this particular ownership group. And they do, every day. Just like they did when 40,000 a night watched a 65 win expansion team, and later 30,000 a night to support a 111 loss monstrosity. This year, the very same community (only larger) barely draws 25K to support a first place squad full of young interesting faces - a product, it needs to be said (because current ownership will never have the "grace" to acknowledge it publicly), of both regimes.

10 August 2007 at 07:48 PM in Attendance, Broadcasters, Front Office Permalink Comments (5)

The Lowest

How could any Phoenician fail to be impressed with the Brewers' 36,381 gate, against a mediocre draw like the Diamondbacks? On Monday, normally the toughest day of the week to pull in fans. Through 47 home dates, the Brewers have, in fact, captured almost 300,000 more customers than the Diamondbacks, well over six thousand additional fans per night.

The Crew's in first place; that's certainly part of it. There's a buzz in Miller Park absent in Phoenix - despite both cities fielding young, interesting teams on the rise. Some claim Milwaukee's a better "baseball town". Better fans. Phoenix, it is often said, has an uneducated, fair weather base with transient sports allegiances. Regardless of whose fans are subjectively "better", there's no dispute as to which burg drew more fans - at least between 1998 and 2004. The DBacks easily outdrew the Brewers every single year - except for a blip the year Miller Park opened and Milwaukee's attendance edged past Arizona's by less than 1000 per game. That anomaly vanished by the next year, 2002, when the Diamondbacks again outdrew Milwaukee by more than a million fans. Even when Arizona lost 111 games, they still outdrew a superior Milwaukee club by a cool half a million.

But then something weird happened. In 2005, the Diamondbacks struggled with the Padres for the NL West flag while Milwaukee finished 19 games out - yet Brewer attendance hopscotched over Arizona, apparently for good. Despite comparable W/L records in 2006, Milwaukee increased their gate advantage to a quarter million, and are poised, this year, to double that - to half a million additional fans.

Do significant flip flops in intercity attendance, like this, over less than a decade, suggest one city is intrinsically a "better" sports town than another? What else is in play here?
One thing that changed after 2004, is that the Diamondbacks sharply raised prices on single game tickets - on the heels of that ignominious 111 loss season. They raised prices again in 2005, and a third time in 2006, despite failing to field a .500 team in any of those years.
The two stadiums' pricing charts reveal the Diamondbacks charge higher ticket prices than the Brewers, pretty much across the board. Pick any section you like (by clicking on the links in the previous sentence) and comparison shop for yourself. In some sections, the Brewers charge slightly higher season ticket prices, but their so-called "differentials" (the premium that single game purchasers pay above the season ticket price) are typically smaller than what the Diamondbacks tack on, resulting in Milwaukee's lower single game prices. Many middle tier seats in Miller Park, for example, go for half ($24) of what the Diamondbacks charge($50), perhaps illuminating why Brewer fans buy up thousands while comparable seats go unoccupied at Chase Field.

In addition, the NL Central Brewers, with a plethora of high demand matchups against the Cubs and World Champion Cardinals, jack up just ten games all year with "premium" pricing - the Diamondbacks designate twenty such games, a full quarter of the home schedule. I, for one, havent witnessed a remotely premium game at Chase Field since 2003, and declaring a game "premium" simply doesnt make it so.

Every market also has it's own demand characteristics. Milwaukee has a longstanding reputation as a blue collar town - so it surprises some to learn that its per capita income($36,488) significantly exceeds Phoenix($31,133). In truth, Phoenix has the lowest per capita income of any major league metro area.

The Brewers are just one of many NL clubs that charge less than the Diamondbacks. Depite repeatedly misleading claims by Daron Sutton and Derrick Hall, Chase Field clearly does not offer the lowest prices in baseball, either in terms of cheapest available seat, or more importantly, overall price structure. Are the Diamondbacks liars? Oh, probably not enough to engage an Attorney General with more important crimes on his plate. It's more a willful contortion, by people who know better, to ignore the facts, ignore premium pricing, indeed ignore single game pricing entirely, to cynically justify spouting such self-interested foolishness.
(photos courtesy of mlb.com and email.mtsd.k12.wi./ddiener)

17 July 2007 at 10:06 AM in Attendance, Front Office Permalink Comments (1)


Roof's open and the air's on full blast in one of MLB's most comfortable ballparks. Biggest series of the year, according to Bob Melvin. We agree. His scarlet O'Haras improbably sport the best record in the entire league in late June, with perennial megadraw LA nipping at their heels.
Yet just 24,966 saved their biggest cheers for still favorite son Luis Gonzalez. Just like his visit in April. Just like when he played here for eight years.

We'll ask again. What's depressing attendance in the nation's fifth largest, fastest growing major city? Monday evening's riveting installment of Antiques Roadshow, perhaps? The Phoenix Suns are on vacation. Kids are out of school. Hmmm? Well, I guess that about covers it. Cant imagine what could possibly be impeding our sports crazy populace from embracing this particular entertainment organization. I guess being in last place doesnt help things.

Oh, never mind.

(photo courtesy of starkdavingmad.com)
26 June 2007 at 01:28 PM in Attendance Permalink Comments (7)

Draw Bridge
An all time franchise low 16,792 attendees did not see Conor Jackson bat in three runs with a pair of homers Thursday, and thus did not see the Diamondbacks lose to the San Diego Padres in eleven innings 6-4, neither dropping the D*Backs below .500 nor further taxing their bullpen.
But what few people were there did see Tony Clark. His counterpart, San Diego's first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez, hit a three run homer in the top of the first, and Bob Melvin countered by starting a first baseman who actually hits like one, enabling Arizona to take the series in surprising fashion and keep their heads above .500.
Livan Hernandez(2-1) survived A-Gon's opposite field bomb, shutting out the Padres on two hits from that point through the seventh frame to earn the victory. His opposite, Chris R Young (2-2), walked three and misplayed a comebacker in addition to yielding the pair of homers to Clark, and was removed in the sixth.
Why the record setting, poor attendance? Considering your team is 12-11, has exciting young players with a pair of recent walkoff hits, and your city is enjoying relatively fair weather, it's a fair question. Add the return of the greatest player in franchise history, Randy Johnson, and the sea of empty seats deserves some explanation.
We dont think there's any one factor driving such a dubious result, and gravitate towards a multi-variable 'perfect storm' theory to explain such an extreme outcome.
Here's what we think has primarily driven attendance down in 2007:
Lack of big draw opponents (apart from the 2 game series v LA, the Reds, COL and SD dont draw particularly well here)
Fans lack of confidence in a team of young unknowns.
Fans lack of interest in a team of young unknowns.
Fans response to rising ticket prices and what they perceive as a lack of "good old fashioned value" at the ballpark (metro Phoenix ranks dead last in per capita income among the 30 MLB markets)
Fans response to an FO perceived as putting profitability ahead of the product on the field.
Fans lack of confidence in a team skippered by Bob Melvin
Fan rebellion against an FO perceived as "mean" or "petty" (ie Gonzo's dissatisfaction, erasure of team colors, removal of $1 seats)
Some of this will self-correct momentarily. Tonight, for example, Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants ride in to the rescue for some Friday night fun. (The Bay Area Boyz drew 56,000 yesterday in Los Angeles.) And talented, hardworking young players will soon engender fan affection as surely as springtime heralds love.
But the bottom four bullets touch on a structural attendance problem here, that is largely the brainchild of new ownership. Every baseball market is unique and presents it's own advantages and challenges, it's own supply and demand. So, when people complain that Phoenix has fair weather fans or lacks the entrenched rabidity found in Fenway Park, they're merely describing a symptom rather than unveiling a root cause.
The question isnt if the Phoenix market differs from Boston or Tampa Bay. The question is, what do you do about it, and get people to come to your ballpark.

(photos courtesy of Paul Conners / AP & http://www.artistnina.com/)
27 April 2007 at 10:34 AM in Attendance, Front Office, Game Analysis Permalink Comments (16)

Paying Fans

Bumped into Jeff Moorad yesterday, at my son's middle school baseball game. I was, coincidentally, donning my purple Dbacks 2001 World Series shirt, so that went over well ;- ) Actually, since the Dbacks CEO had sunglasses on, no reaction was discernable as I walked past, smirking. Inside, I imagine, he was sobbing like a baby.
I've seen Moorad at Phoenix Country Day School(PCDS) a few times, when my kid is the visiting team, which makes me think Jeff attends many of his son's games. I wonder how often he'd attend if he had to pay $50 for a decent seat?
Moorad looks about as much like a typical baseball fan as Donald Trump or Sydney Greenstreet in Casablanca. They even wear the same color hat. Jeff's also a heavy man in an expensive suit, who watched the game apart from the other parents and fans. Who knows why, maybe he didnt want to discuss the colors?
He wanted to discuss the red threads the other day, in the Dbacks television booth:
"...they're selling like hotcakes, even though that's not why we made the change"
Moorad may not want to discuss attendance at his ballpark either. Wednesday's was 19,534, followed by an alarmingly low 20,219 Friday night turnout vs Colorado. It was MLB's lowest tally that night, save a game finally played in Cleveland that I understand was contested on tundra. Despite our young, exciting team's flirtations with first place, the 20,219 Friday fiasco may be the Dbacks lowest attended Friday night game ever.
Whaddya think? Must be an uneducated, transient fan base ;- )
In a final bit of Jeff Moorad news, his golden boy, Russ Ortiz, beat Pittsburgh last night, falling one pitch shy of a complete game. Here's Ortiz' line after 8 innings:
8 7 2 2 1 7 2.25
Paying folks to come to Chase Field probably isnt a bad idea. We just didnt think it would be Russ Ortiz.
14 April 2007 at 07:27 PM in Attendance, Front Office Permalink Comments (5)

Outta Here

Witnessing teammates' reaction to Hairston's walkoff double, it looked like some of them were trying to give Scott a wedgie. Which, all things considered, is more entertaining to watch than a bunch of high fives.
As projected, Game 2 attendance was lower than a limbo stick at a midget gala, a couple thousand less than Diamondhacks' "break even" estimate of 23,500, but still four thousand more than last year's historic second home game. Kind of a mixed signal regarding fan buzz at the moment. With Tuesday's televised 11th hour heroics capping an improbable six game run however, decent walk up business should immediately follow - anything less than 24 or 25K total fannies at Chase should start raising eyebrows about why our bustling burg isn't more supportive of the redboys. It's certainly not realistic to expect them to win more, or even as much as, they already have.
Daron Sutton is starting to grow on me. His Wolfman Jack schtick going to commercial - "Letzzz git some rrrrrrrrunns!!!!!", is already wearing thin, but the ex-pitcher understands the game better than I initially feared - he's certainly more insightful regarding the basic batter/pitcher confrontation than Thom Brennaman typically was, who rarely got beyond familiar rants regarding first pitch hacking or grooving fastballs.
Consider Tracy's homerun. Tracy barely laid off the pitch prior, just below the knees, setting up his 3 run blast on the next pitch. Sutton really hammered home the connection between Tracy's good eye and enabling him to see a better subsequent pitch he could really handle. Brennaman might have praised Tracy's restraint, but he would have been less likely to advertise its connection to the homer. And I think Thom, not being a player, sometimes assumed or expected professional hitters to hold up on borderline pitches, as if that was their job, like attending a meeting. But Sutton, an ex-pitcher, seems to more readily appreciate Tracy's "little" skill, and is eager to share how that bears disproportionate influence on the game.
Daron also disagreed with Grace on a Chris Snyder check swing, conceding that Snyder did, in fact, go around - and later questioned a missed strike call when Cincinnati was pitching. This kind of even handed observation bolsters the credibility of an announcer who has something of a rep as an enthusiastic homer, and we'd like this objectivity to define the broadcast, with some inevitable homerism around the edges, rather than the other way around.
(photo courtesy Ross D. Franklin/AP)
11 April 2007 at 04:40 PM in Attendance, Broadcasters Permalink Comments (4)

The 7000 Club

This represents the paid attendance subtracted from total attendance at yesterday's home opener. That's right, over seven thousand unpaid. To give you an idea of how huge a figure that is - the Diamondbacks dont even have 7000 season ticket holders (full season).
We doubt John McCain paid. Seriously, who would pay to sit next to Jeff Moorad? And that six year old trumpet player must be a comp. Still, that's an enormous influx of freeloaders. Did someone forget to close the loading dock door in shipping and receiving, enabling hordes of neighboorhood urchins to stream in, like in a Frank Capra movie?
What is the inside dirt behind these huddled masses, yearning to sit free?
One theory is, the Diamondbacks saw the value in presenting a full stadium on opening day and made the necessary arrangements. If so, we think it's a smart call, so long as some of those urchins got to catch the game. Dress em up in the new duds and get em on camera? That's worth gold to this front office right now. Have em hoot and holler from the upper deck so fence straddling "fans" at home can hear the excitement on TV. The club should be paying those kids for that kind of advertising, time and a half if the kid has to sit next to Moorad.
This is a critical month in the franchise's battle to recapture it's steadily eroding fan base, at a time when the new colors are being met with some hesitation. The team is 6-2 with a host of new faces and playing well, in what is perhaps the easiest schedule stretch of the entire year. They need to play well, because veteran divison rivals eager to kick the new kid replacements in the teeth fill the remainder of April's schedule, followed by the Mets and Phils to open May.
It's a stretch sure to have potholes, an open opportunity for naysayers to chime,"Here we go again" as the .750 winning % inevitably returns to earth. So this series with the Reds, and the Rockies this weekend, is actually pretty important. We'll keep a close eye on tonight's attendance as a barometer of that enthusiasm. Dont have high expectations. Game 2 crowds are notoriously small, and a 25,000 figure tonight should be looked at as something of a success. Last years second home game, following a 37,000 opener, drew an all time franchise low 18,664 against the moribund Rockies. The Reds are a better local draw than Colorado, so that along with the 6-2 mark and the new novelties ought to push us well past 20,000. We'll call 23,500 the breakeven mark, over which there's some manifestation of buzz, under which it's more of the same old same old.
(photo courtesy of http://www.acctv.com.au/)
10 April 2007 at 03:48 PM in Attendance Permalink Comments (5)

It Takes A Parking Lot

Incredible Scene at Dodger Stadium

Some might venture that what's "incredible" about this Chavez Ravine panorama is that - if you look real hard towards the rear - you can faintly make out a white guy. What floors Diamondhacks, however, is that this cheerful ethnic gumbo of sports enthusiasts is lined up to pay Dodger prices.
Four thousand of them. Which goes to show that in a megalopolis of 12 million people, it takes all kinds!
( photo courtesy of Ben Platt/MLB.com )
05 March 2007 at 10:03 PM in Attendance, Other Teams Permalink Comments (3)

Singular Honeydrippers

The green retro scoreboard asserts the score:
DBacks Game 1
Chick Flicks 0
This cheeky result appeared in my Sunday paper, within yet another season ticket ad, further clarifying Diamondbacks' two pronged marketing strategy: misrepresent the product and shame people into buying it.
We previously chronicled a similar home mailing targeted at fathers' insecurites; today's 14 inch ad shows a couple, their features dramatically darkened just shy of silhouette, overlooking a distant Chase Field. The ad's shading is a masterful device, clearly projecting the body language and facial expressions of a man and a woman, while obscuring their race and ethnicity. In other words, whether you are Anglo, Hispanic, African or Asian, this could be you!
The young woman in the ad is smiling, looking up adoringly at her "guy" a la Nancy Reagan. She is leaning into him, her chin almost on his shoulder. Season Ticket Man is smiling back. A kiss seems imminent. Perhaps even a condom.
And with good reason. He has jettisoned "chick flicks" and imposed his manly will upon her - and the little woman is positively dewy about it. Why, how could a gal ever sit through another Hugh Grant or Brad Pitt blockbuster when Randy Johnson and Chris Snyder are this close?
The ad further instructs:
Put away the tissues and come out to the ballgame.
Seems like alot to ask of those who've actually sat through a summer in Chase's top deck, where this fictional couple is also, apparently, in heat. After trekking to the stadium in 110 degrees, braving the steep climb up to allegedly air conditioned seats, any dripping fan can identify the true source of this young lady's moisture.
Perhaps the most misleading aspect of the ad, however, is here:

DBacks Game 1
Chick Flicks 0

Oh, the exploitation of young men's sexual insecurities is clear enough, and we're not even referring to the subtle but false promise of old time charm suggested by the Fenwayesque, manual scoreboard. What caught our eye was how the allegedly good thing, the Dbacks game, is singular and that which is to be avoided is plural. The authentic, real world choice between "a" ballgame and "a" movie has been distorted here into a false challenge: assert one's manhood with "1 game" or eternally wallow, fettered and emasculated, in a perfumed sea of "chick flicks".
What's misleading further - and borderline fraudulent - is that this isnt an ad for a ballgame, but rather for season ticket packages - where "Dbacks Games" makes perfect sense and "Dbacks Game 1" perfectly does not. This is another purposeful contrivance. Ballsy Diamondbacks' brass apparently lack sufficient cajones to openly market a boatload of ballgames versus a bunch of movies. Instead, under the guise of singularity, they're selling quite a long term committment - without honesty, courage or even the appropriate moisture to seal the deal.
19 February 2007 at 01:37 PM in Attendance, Front Office Permalink Comments (6)

Pack Rat

The Dbacks are giving me another opportunity. This time their gift is called Premier Six Pack.
Here's your opportunity to purchase tickets to the most popular games before they go on sale to the public!
Before the public? Gosh, maybe now I can be one of those 'insiders' ;-)
It goes on:
Pick any six of the 20 Premier games, including Opening Day and the Boston Red Sox games, and get access to the Baseline Reserve sections (110-114 and 130-134). Tickets purchased through the D-backs Premier Six Pack will be offered at the discounted price of $37.00 per ticket -- a savings of $18 over buying each game separately.
First, let's be clear that this fuzzily worded $18 "savings" is not a savings per ticket, but a total savings across a six ticket minimum purchase. So a theoretical $480 cost for two seats, when paid game by game, drops to $444 for the package. Sounds like reasonable compensation for the inflexibility of committing to half a dozen ballgames - until the fees up the bill to 465.48, so one's barely saving a dollar per ticket over individually listed, premier game prices.
And what of the "discounted price of $37.00 per ticket"? The savings are only contrived from the recently hiked, pie in the sky $40 single game asking price in the baseline reserve section. For some perspective, these same seats actually sold for $16.50 when the Dbacks first drew 4 million fans per season. Gee - I wonder how that happened?
I also love how you "get access" to the Baseline Reserve. Hee hee. For those who dont know, Baseline Reserve is Sedona Red corpspeak for lower bowl outfield seats near the foul poles. Typically, I'd "get access" to these seats with nothing more than a $1 gameday ticket, often in one of the nearly vacant first eight rows from the field.
Just for fun, I clicked on the Six Pack's Buy Tickets Now button, to see what seat locations MLB's software was meting out upon their "preferred" customers. I was bestowed with Row 24 for a Braves game - the other five were in Rows 31-38.
There's no denying the Red Sox are an excellent draw, but do I really want to spend $40 a pop to watch the Dodgers or Braves from less than inspiring seats, all for the privilege of squinting at Red Sox in the middle of June, from below the overhang in Row 38, the back of my head practically rubbing against this guy's mustard wand?
Again, I say no thanks.
If past years are any indication, numerous attractive options will present themselves via word of mouth and secondary ticket markets, and I'll continue to exploit those at my leisure.
15 February 2007 at 02:28 PM in Attendance Permalink Comments (5)

Corporate Giving

A spiffy season ticket flyer from the Diamondbacks arrived Saturday, proving, if nothing else, a need to target their direct mail a little better. It's a slick little brochure, hinting at the usual illusory benefits attributed to suckers who pay way, way too much for 83 baseball games. Despite the fact the mailer took a tad too long to roll out, as evidenced by Randy Johnson's absence within it, the Diamondbacks should still take pride in their effort. At least they avoided the temptation of enumerating any Baby Backs. Nothing says death to potential season ticket sales quite like "Carlos Quentin is our best position player."
As I say, I have no desire to purchase their package, despite a love for the game and more than a passing interest in Mr Quentin. In the flyer, adjacent to the intricate seating diagram, is this blurb - in lieu of a price list apparently - hinting at my disinterest:
We're giving our season ticket holders a bigger advantage than ever before over single game pricing.
Notice how we've been given something. Not a competitive team (not yet anyway), but a gift nonetheless. As most fans already know, season ticket holders (STH) havent been given anything - rather, MLB franchises have systematically taken away attractive, reasonably priced single game tickets from most everyone else. The resulting illusion of season ticket(ST) "value" is a cornerstone of MLB revenue strategy and has met with some success, as evidenced by the amusing paradox that overall attendance is up despite the fact fewer unique fans are attending games. In other words, turnstiles are turning more, but it's pretty much the same people night in and night out - the 15 to 25 thousand STH in each city who've been suckered into this shell game.
During the Dbacks memorable inaugural season, companion and I sat just off home plate in the lower bowl for $38 per game. In 1999, we paid $41 for 100 wins and the playoffs. In exchange for a World Series, the damage ran about $46. Just six years later (and 4 years removed from fielding a competitive or remotely interesting squad), the magnanimous Dbacks now offer esteemed STH those identical seats...for $62.
As a gift, mind you.
If you're paying more to watch a considerably inferior product, where's the "advantage"? Well, if you bought these same single game seats today, the ones I paid $38 for less than a decade ago, they'll run you $110-125 after all the nauseating online charges and fees. The STH "advantage"(ie $62) hinges on this false dichotomy: the illusion of only two choices.
A third choice, of course, is not to purchase baseball tickets at all and instead pursue more attractive entertainment options with one's savings. Alienated fans have made that choice - millions of times in the Phoenix market alone. Baseball is fond of comparing their high end tickets with pricier basketball and football seats - and their upper deck options against $10 movie tickets. A typical baseball game, however, doesnt have the energy level or entertainment value of a typical NBA or NFL game, according to most sports fans anyway, and while it's plausible that a cheap seat to watch the Mets play on a nice day at Shea is worth more than seeing a run of the mill movie, it's also true that a good first run movie in a comfortable seat is infinitely more enjoyable than the vast balance of Diamondback games endured from the upper deck.
A fourth choice, for baseball diehards needing a fix, is to forego inflated box office prices for secondary ticket markets (ie ebay, stubhub, word of mouth) more aligned with a seat's actual value. In Phoenix, this consistently entails repurchasing seats from rather desperate STH's, sometimes at a significant discount.
Another misleading premise about season ticket value has to do with long term utility - the implicit notion that fans' level of enjoyment stays relatively constant regardless of how many games one attends. It's one thing to sustain utility over time in an authentic, high energy park like Fenway or Wrigley, but after witnessing Chad Tracy hit his first ten homers for a last place team in a less than charming, half empty airplane hangar, all but the least discerning consumers feel pretty foolish paying top dollar just to "be there" for the second ten. Diamondback STH who insist their ballpark experience hasn't deteriorated are fools or liars, either too ashamed of their dubious investment to accurately assess it, or resigned to the drab ballpark each night due to some sort of family trouble at home.
So, Diamondbacks, thanks for thinking of me and for wanting me "to be part of our team again." I understand you have representatives standing by, ready to recommend a plan "right for me". It's just that, well, I've given your opportunity a good deal of thought.
Here's your flyer back. By all means, think of it as a gift.

06 February 2007 at 03:33 PM in Attendance, Front Office Permalink Comments (0)

Dbacks Hike Ticket Prices 500%

Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall proudly announced Thursday that gameday ticket prices in certain sections of Chase Field will increase by 500%. Seats in Sections 300 and 332, priced at $1 every year since franchise inception, will now cost $6 on gameday at the Chase Ho Park box office.
In order to "create more affordability", management addressed fan "complaints" that "there weren't enough" $1 seats, by a) freezing the number of available $1 seats, and b) raising their price 500%. This according to Hall, the Dbacks exec who decreed in autumn that "everyone will like the new uniforms, regardless of age or gender."
In a related goodwill gesture, Hall is also "extremely proud" that approximately 5000 nearby upper level seats will now be priced at $5, to bring them back in line with what they cost when the Diamondbacks last had a winning season and people actually sat in them.
(photo courtesy of Barry Gossage/Arizona Diamondbacks)
07 January 2007 at 04:30 AM in Announcements, Attendance, Front Office Permalink Comments (8)

Never Give A Sucker An Even Break

Talked about and unsolicited 'Sedona red' uniforms will finally be foisted on the public tomorrow, Nov 8th. Actually, not the public so much as a private, bought and paid for, shindig at Scottsdale's Valley Ho resort, designed to contrive excitement and fool the unwashed non-invitees beyond the tent into purchasing some new junk. Seems like quite an expense and bother, after President Derrick Hall decreed that everyone "will like the uniforms, regardless of age or gender". Nonetheless, Diamondhacks welcomes any autumnal "happening" involving our local nine, even if it entails Eric "I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt" Byrnes on the catwalk.
We're not sure why, but Jim from Azsnakepit.com has wrangled a press pass to the catered "event", and plans to fully appreciate the hors d'ouerves selection donning cargo pants.
Just for giggles, we visited azdiamondbacks.com where it turns out the club is selling 2007 season tickets, theoretically anyway. It's clear Bob Melvin's teams are best viewed with a channel changer handy, yet there's really no accounting for taste. Unlike buying single game tickets, or most lawful product purchases, here the buyer must pay a non refundable deposit before any seat locations are revealed.
Question. After a blind deposit, what incents the ballclub to offer a mark customer their full array of available seating options? As far as we can tell - nothing. For example, it might be in the team's interests to only offer more expensive seats, or those historically difficult to sell, to such captive buyers. MLB's propietary ticketing software has digressed towards this "less information" approach in single game sales too, but at least there no deposit's involved, so folks can reasonably opt out.
The indignity doesnt stop there, however, for season ticket wannabes. There's actually a service charge tacked on top of the blind deposit. Now, it's not a great deal of money - five bucks per seat - but that's not the point. Get this - customers are paying a couple hundred bucks, online, as a good faith gesture towards spending, in all but a few cases, thousands of dollars, for the "privilege" of watching a last place team, from seats that may not be as appealing as they had hoped for. You'd think the Diamondbacks would sweeten the pot with a complimentary jersey, or have Juan Cruz mow the wannabe's lawns in the off season. Instead, these poor suckers are actually charged... for making a deposit!
Fields of dreams have, apparently, given way to W.C. Fields.
Never give a sucker an even break.
07 November 2006 at 08:39 PM in Attendance, Gear, Uniforms and Memorabilia Permalink Comments (2)

Dude, It Was Only A Dollar

I bought a dollar ticket yesterday and for the first time since the 2001 World Series, got my money's worth at Chase Field. I highly recommend it to fans on a budget who are willing to arrive by about 5PM for a 6:40 start to ensure ticket availability. The $1 window is located on the opposite side of the stadium from the main box office, adjacent to the right-center entrance off Jefferson and 7th Street.
The often broiled, snaky queue actually forms in the shade this time of year(for evening games), and because everyone's buying a fixed price ticket without fussing about location, the lengthy line shrinks rather quickly. Of course, after you've snatched your stub and any promotional giveaway, for goodness sakes dont proceed to your assigned seat. The park is near empty at this hour and most ushers are disinterested in checking tickets until 45 minutes or so prior to first pitch, so camp out wherever you want on the lower level. Even if the ticketholder commandeers "your" seat, there's usually plenty of empties nearby from which to choose.
I watched the game from the fifth row just beyond third base in seats listing at $30 that are probably worth about $12. And as the guy in the McDonalds commercial says,
"Dude, it was only a dollar".
17 September 2006 at 01:52 PM in Attendance, Ballparks, Games We Actually Attended Permalink Comments (0)

Gimme Five

Which MLB ballpark is the best value and where does Chase Field rank?
Sports Illustrated collected detailed fan fedback on ballpark satisfaction and applied that subjective data against objective standards, like ticket prices and team W/L, to arrive at their list*
Again, it's not a list of the best ballpark "stadiums" or "experiences", but an attempt to weigh those experiences against cost to arrive at a measure of value - hence exorbitant little jewels like Fenway and Wrigley rate quite poorly.
Chase ranks in the middle of the pack, with average ticket pricing (per MLB), slightly above average access/amenities (per fans) and a below average team (per any six year old).
Is Chase really an average ballpark experience? Examine the list of teams, top to bottom. See a pattern?
( Think geography. Hint: Wrigley and Anaheim are anomalies, bucking the overerwhelming trend. )
Answer: All the worst value venues(except Wrigley) are in coastal states, and all the best values (except Anaheim) are in interior states.
There could be several reasons for this. Per capita income, cost of living and subjective expectations about pricing and team performance vary regionally. Perhaps a flaw in SI's methodology resulted in a Midwestern bias ? Or maybe red state parks really are better values? In any case, this puts Chase Field's ranking in a different light.
Among "interior state" venues, Chase ranks 12th of 15th**, ahead of only Wrigley, Minute Maid and Toronto. Obviously Wrigley, and we would assert, Toronto, are special destinations that fans expect to pay a premium for. Old Skydome is smack dab in what is arguably North America's most appealing major downtown. Houston provides a better comparison to Phoenix. Their ridiculous ticket prices($26 ave) are tempered somewhat by the Astros 2005 accomplishments. None of the other eleven "interior state" stadiums, however, rate a worse value than Chase.
Diamondhacks suggests Coors Field is the most apt comparison with our hangar. Mountain state per capita income, modern venue, lousy team. (Heck, both teams even wear purple!). The Rockies get a couple extra points for the view and having a hipper bar scene than Copper Square, but everything else scores very similarly.
Except ticket prices. Coors seats are, on average, $5 cheaper than Chase. Every seat, out of 40-50,000 is, on average, priced five dollars higher in our toasty tin. That's mostly why the Rockies rank 2nd here and the Dbacks bring up the rear.
Diamondhacks recognizes that franchises employ different strategies within their markets to maximize profit. The clear message, however, that Coors Field provides Phoenicians is :
The Diamondbacks are not trying very hard to maximize fans.
* hat tip on the SI Story: AZ Snakepit
** we treated the Phils and Nats as "coastal state" teams because of their East coast attributes, although a geographer could quibble with that assumption. If both were considered interior state teams, the Dbacks would have ranked 13th of 17.
13 September 2006 at 01:45 PM in Attendance, Ballparks, Front Office Permalink Comments (7)

Interest Waning

This weekend's debut of Livan Hernandez, followed by the return of Brandon Webb, were much balleyhooed by Diamondbacks media - but take a look at Friday and Saturday night's attendance around the National League.
Visitor @ Home Fri Sat = Total
Reds @ Philadelphia 41461 39553 81,014
Mets @ Washington 29414 42507 71,921
Cards @ Pittsburgh 30516 35037 65,553
Brewers @ Atlanta 31336 40480 71,816
Padres @ Houston 43239 43591 86,830
Cubs @ Colorado 35744 43485 79,229
Marlins @ Arizona 21950 25168 47,118
Giants @ Los Angeles 53695 46444 100,139
For all the bellyaching about the Marlins inability to draw at home, they average 28,000+ away from South Beach, typically more on Friday and Saturday nights. And yet, in the nation's fifth largest city this weekend, barely 20,000 Phoenicians showed up each night to go "fishing".
Look at Atlanta. Or Philadelphia. They're going nowhere, playing nobody special; 35 to 40,000 a night. The Rockies? 40K per, against the boring, hapless Cubs. Even the smallest burg of all, poor lil Pittsburgh, outdrew Phoenix by 35%.
Despite being in the wild card and division races, despite featuring several exciting young players and despite signaling their intent to play in October with the acquisition of Livan Hernandez, this franchise fails to capture the public's imagination or inspire much loyalty and confidence. Winning the division can certainly change that. Anything less, and the resurgent Arizona Cardinals will, by default, supplant the Diamondbacks as the valley's 2nd favorite team - only the NHL's Coyotes remain to cushion the fall.
13 August 2006 at 12:57 PM in Attendance Permalink Comments (6)

This Year's Model Not Selling

Some in the Diamondhacks family anticipated a fairly big turnout last night at BOB/Chase Fieldpark for the following reasons:
Apart from Saturday nights, Friday night games are traditionally the highest drawing games during the week at BOB/Chase Fieldpark
The Mets traditionally draw fairly well in Phoenix
This is New York's only 2006 visit to the valley
Despite typically hot weather outside, the middle deck felt very comfortable with the roof open and the A/C on.
The Diamondbacks and Mets are both in first place
And yet, fewer than 20,000 fans were seated at first pitch when Arizona hosted the Metropolitans Friday night. 23,671 eventually straggled through the turnstiles of the half empty stadium.
Why is that?
There were plenty of Mets fans, donning, as is their regional custom, ridiculously overpriced authentic MLB jerseys. They were quite easy to spot in our section, even before the binge drinking.
Where, however, has the home fan base gone in the nation's fifth largest, and rapidly expanding, city? Diamondhacks offered up some answers in April, zeroing in on ticket pricing. Or maybe locals truly understand just how far the Dbacks have fallen more than they are generally given credit for? This year's team has played solid, entertaining baseball and yet fans clearly aren't interested enough to actually pay for a ticket.
Are Phoenix fans slow to appreciate this year's improved model or do they sense something is still not quite right under Chase's retractable 'hood'?
10 June 2006 at 06:35 PM in Attendance Permalink Comments (3)

Chase Ugly

Diamondhacks salutes Charlie Warlie of Glendale AZ, who penned this brief Letter To the Editor in today's Arizona Republic:
Due to the falling attendance at Chase Field and the fact that Chase Bank is owned by JPMorgan Chase and Co.,the facility should have really been named the Morg!
LOL, Charlie!
22 April 2006 at 06:41 PM in Attendance, Ballparks Permalink Comments (0)

Shawn Green's Hooters
44,294 !!!
Last night, the Diamondbacks shattered their 2006 single game attendance mark, set back on Opening Day.
Unfortunately, they were in Dodger Stadium at the time - where there may have been more beach balls than actual Diamondbacks fans.
Returning to the city that knows him best, Shawn Green was - as is now customary - relentlessly hooted.
The "quality start" from Orlando Hernandez was hardly that, considering the venue and HP umpire Angel Hernandez' notoriously expansive strike zone. Are those guys hermanos, or what?
Yielding 3 runs in 6 IP isnt unacceptably flammable, but it's fiery enough to lose lots of night games in LA. "Reliever" Greg Aquino poured kerosene on El Duque's embers. At least he and Chris Snyder intelligently relied on the remnants of Aquino's fastball sparingly, as the Dodgers hammered most of them. Aquino looked exhausted, perhaps from his seven innings of work this year.
Personally, I prefer liberal strike zones - maybe not quite as large as Hernandez' - but large enough where a pitcher can work an inch off one side of the plate or get a strike around the ribcage. Did anyone catch Thursday's SF/AZ "slugfest" enabled by HP umpire Rob Drake? Yeah, the game with 16 runs and 15 walks. Drake's strike zone was the size of a dog dish.
If you haven't found it yet, today's game account in The Arizona Republic is relegated to page 10 of the sports section, behind not just Phoenix Suns' pieces, but all the other ball scores, hockey and even an NFL piece.
Even the obligatory Hooters ad is on page 9.

21 April 2006 at 05:28 PM in Attendance, Ballgames Permalink Comments (6)

Two 'Show Low' Fans Take 'Shots' At Bonds

Barry Bonds is scheduled to play tonight in Phoenix, where plenty of seats are still available - for a price. It's an open question whether anyone will show up on a Monday here to "take a shot" at the Ted Williams of his generation, as did this gluteally expressive Angelino.

Photo courtesy of The Sports Frog
Bonds' first valley appearance drew just 21,610 fans, including 23 year old doofus Mark Greggersen of Show Low AZ, who was charged with disorderly conduct after throwing a tube of toothpaste at Bonds from the left field bleachers. A grinning Greggersen, who also sported a homemade "syringe necklace", explained after his dismissal that he wanted to make it clear that "he (Bonds) was not welcome at this ballpark".
As evidenced by eight years of relentless booing and mock chants of "Baarrryy, Baaarrryyy" , Bonds has never been welcome at Chase Ho Park. Moreover, anyone who blindsides an athlete with toiletries of any kind is not welcome in polite society, let alone at a ballyard. Kid, take your silly grin and white undershirt and go back to Show Low to do whatever you folks do up in the woods. When, or if, you are ever interested in becoming at all funny, take a cue from the LA comedian, seen above, executing his own wickedly harmless brand of "Show Low".
17 April 2006 at 11:47 AM in Attendance, Barry Bonds, Feral cats Permalink Comments (0)

Those Who Have Vanished
Lowest. Attendance. Ever.

I figured maybe one of those oxymoronic Pacific typhoons, or at least a wicked dust devil, prevented the denizens of the nation's fifth largest city from visiting Chase Ho Park last night - but it turns out the weather was...

...typical chamber of commerce variety - simply mahvelous!
So why the record-setting apathy?
Both teams on the field stunk, but that's hardly news - even 'Hack partner The Arizona Republic is on board that aircraft carrier. In previous years, the always dull Rockies have drawn more here on "Game 2" dates, and this year's locals already look better than any DHacks squad since 2003. Besides, several crummy teams historically draw pretty well.
No, this gradual but unmistakable exodus isnt as much about the recent brand of listless, inept play as it is a product of collective, cumulative disenchantment with an inexplicably aggresive schedule of ticket price hikes.
I dont mind supporting a bad ballclub, especially considering the DiamondHacks impressive, albeit somewhat distant, past and their exciting future. Indeed, the enthusiastic backing of lovable losers has delicious cachet, at least for a while - and is an old baseball tradition. What I do mind is watching a bad team while absorbing a rapid fire barrage of unjustified increases, coyly marketed as "Premium Pricing" and the like.
Look. Everyone knows the DiamondHacks haven't played a remotely premium game since 2003. It may've taken a couple years for the densest among us to catch on to baseball's complex, tiered, too important by half, pricing structure.
But we get it now.
There are no decent everyday values, let alone bargains, left at Jefferson & 7th. (And by no, I mean that waiting for an hour or two under the broiling Arizona sun to score genuinely cheap, sameday seats is not an option for most Caucasians.) Once reasonable upper deck admission, like the Hohokam culture , is now ancient Phoenix history. And the $10 bleacher seat is, of course, long gone.

The best remaining value for an increasing number of modern-day working Phoenicians is to simply stay away from the stadium.
To vanish, as it were.
For some, it's only about economic utility - simple choices reflecting their personal values. For others, including thousands of former season ticket holders, it's even more personal. It's about feeling that they've been taken for granted, taken for a fool, taken for a sucker, by corporate marketers overcharging for an inferior product of ever-diminishing quality - and then suggesting that perhaps because other fans are being ripped off more than you are that you should be content watching a boring shell of a team from your $34 "value price" seat behind the foul pole.
Well, $34 plus the $2.50 handling fee and the $2 ticket printing charge - but you get the idea.
13 April 2006 at 12:05 AM in Attendance, Front Office Permalink Comments (2)

I'll Crash At My Place Tonight... Thanks

The DiamondHacks' decision to flout tradition by opening at night to boost attendance worked like a charm when just more than ten thousand empty,overpriced seats greeted the hapless 'Hacks in their home opener.
Picture the attendance if this had been a traditional weekday game.
At gametime(6:40pm MST), it appeared that fewer than 25,000 were inside Chase Ho Park. By the fifth inning, the late-arriving crowd swelled considerably to 37,355 officially setting a club record for lowest opening attendance ever.
A scheduled pregame flyover was cancelled due to an F-16 crash at Luke AFB earlier that day. The pilot's exact condition is unknown but it's reported that he ejected safely.

Times are indeed tough when even the flippin' F-16s dont show up at your opener.
12 April 2006 at 12:43 PM in Attendance Permalink Comments (0)

Two Million To One

It says here that 2,059,331 people attended games at Bank One Ballpark in 2005. How many of these were Diamondback fans? Let me break it down:
150,000 Dodger Fans
100,000 Giant Fans
325,000 fans of "other" opponents
That leaves 1484000 "fans" of the Diamondbacks. But of course that's not really one and a half million separate individuals. It's more like the same eighteen thousand regulars who come to games again and again and again.
Just who are these lemmings and why on earth are they there? Breaking it down:
Judging from the convoluted queues snaking from each of BOB's ubiquitous brew kiosks, roughly six thousand are alcoholics.
Another four thousand are the embarrassed girlfriends,long suffering wives, designated driving "buddies" and sundry enablers of these drunks.
Two thousand are "pre-paid" mothers and toddlers with no interest in baseball, congregating in or around the center field play area. The wives reluctantly attend rather than see their husband's expensive season tix go to waste, since he's too bored and disgusted to use them himself and cant give them away at the office.
About two thousand each night are "group sales", comprised mostly of corporate underlings graciously pretending they're having fun to appease misguided bosses fulfilling lame 'teambuilding' goals.
From this sprawling metropolis, about a thousand gullible first timers visit to check out relentlessly hyped Baseball Fever...and inevitably leave as sweat-soaked suckers, newly resolved that they do not "Live For This".
Nine hundred people arrive daily from Mexico and are "just happy to be here".
Thirty people come for a dip in the pool.
And there's one flag lady.
11 October 2005 at 05:43 PM in Attendance Permalink Comments (0)


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