Tuesday, July 29, 2008

McCourt Whines About Declining Attendance

I cannot believe what I've read in the si.com article which Orel just posted, about the Dodgers (read: Frank McCourt) coveting Manny Ramirez, even at the cost of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. That is INSANITY.

But strangely, it's Frankie's frugality (Ramirez earns $20M/year), and not his short-sightedness or highly obvious love of Boston, which has him doubting the deal. And instead of relishing his second-place in the NL attendance status, he is actually complaining about lagging attendance!

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, a Bostonian, is believed to love the idea of adding Ramirez to bolster the Dodgers' mediocre offense. However, McCourt, whose team has previously acquired or signed ex-Red Sox Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Lowe, Bill Mueller and manager Grady Little under his stewardship, has been telling Dodgers people he doesn't want to add payroll during this trading season, and has been openly complaining about disappointing attendance and revenues. Ramirez is making $20 million this year.

Okay, Frank, let's look at the numbers. Home attendance averaged 46,400 in 2006 (a playoff year), good enough for second place (to the Yankees), and obviously best in the NL. In 2007, average attendance increased to 47,614, still good enough for second in MLB and first in the NL.

This year, home attendance is averaging out at 44,763, a 6% decline from prior year. What's worse, the Dodgers are now in third place overall, as the Mets have vaulted them to take second place to the Yankees; the Mets are averaging over 50K per home game.

Why the decline in attendance, particularly from a fan base that is legendary for supporting the Dodgers in thick and thin? A number of hypotheses jump to mind:

  • The product on the field has not performed, mostly due to the money you and Ned Colletti have misspent on pricey veterans that either sit on the disabled list or play well below expectations;
  • Ticket prices have been jacked up every year to astronomical amounts that are silly and illogical, when you stop to think about it (for example, my $35/seat ticket has jumped to $85/seat since Frankie took over in 2004);
  • Parking has jumped from $8 to $15 per car over the same period of time, and the Dodgers refuse to fund any public transportation alternatives;
  • The total cost of a family visit went up 19.3% from 2006-2007, while the MLB average increase was less than 4% and no other team had a double-digit increase over prior year;
  • The revised traffic plan for Dodger Stadium sucks, particularly for weekend games, and is no more efficient than the more logical we-won't-force-you-out-a-specific-gate system from before;
  • Did I mention the team on the field, despite habitual overuse of veterans at every possible circumstance even when logic and statistics would have one think differently, has not performed?

Frank, if attendance is lagging, you can write off some of our slipped positional ranking to Shea Stadium's final year. But the absolute decrease of 6% is really due to the shoddy composition of the team your staff put together (with huge amounts of salary generating negative returns), or the fact that your greed has made coming to Dodger Stadium a simply unaffordable experience for the average fan.

You want more attendance? Get rid of the All-You-Can-Eat $25 tickets and replace it with a Come-Back-More-Often alternative. Cut us a break on parking, or fund another frickin' shuttle bus. Make coming to Dodger Stadium a weekly summer tradition for families, and not a once-a-year treat like Disneyland.

And, you can also try putting a quality team on the field, rather than lining the pockets of your family, the disabled list, and the staff of the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic. Which could mean adding ManRam, sure (heck, if it were only money and not prospects in return, I wouldn't say no)--but only if Kemp and Ethier and Martin and Loney and Billingsley and Broxton and all the other youth with potential play around him, too.


Dusto_Magnifico said...

WOW! That was awesome!

Steve Sax said...

Are you talking about the earthquake, or the post?

Alex Cora said...

Great post, I hope Frank reads it. I agree it is getting WAY too expensive to goto a dodger game now - and it hurts more to know that my money is going to the salary for Jones, Pierre, and Schmidt. I would rather my money goto Martin, Kemp, and Either. Plus with HD TV, it is almost like you are there, plus you get home a lot faster because there is no traffic.

Dusto_Magnifico said...

Either one... I live in Alaska where we have pretty constant quakes. Haven't had anything over a 4 in a while though.

Yeah, something needs to be done about the ticket prices and payroll. Enough with the overpriced vets and Torre already!

cigarcow said...

Kemp and Ethier for Ramirez? I didn't see that in the article. Screw that. They can have Ethier though.

Dean H. said...

McCourt should call me.

I used to go to 10 games a year but haven't made it to Chavez Ravine this season. I am sick of all the STUPID trade trade rumors, followed by BAD trades.

I mean, Casey Blake...?

Why are Matt Kemp, Andre Either, Russell Martin, James Loney, Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw ever mentioned in trade rumors? Why isn't Andy LaRoche getting a shot to hold onto the second base job? This team would have sucked even worse these last few years without "The Kids", so maybe someone else should be taking the blame.

Why are the Dodgers hanging onto a 40-year-old Second Baseman that has just announced this is his last season with the team? They haven't been above .500 SINCE MAY!

Why aren't the Dodgers offering to eat the Andruw Jones contract in a deal for prospects? Does anyone think '08 is the year we're headed to the World Series, or that El Gordo is suddenly turning into that power bat we've needed since JD Drew left town?

Stupid, short-sighted management is why I'm not making the trek up the 5. Maybe Frank should stop flirting with Man-Ram and ADDRESS THE PROBLEM!

Alex said...

I am lucky enough to have awesome season tickets, 4 of them. For years it cost $250 for all 4 for a game. Then they started making improvements and it went up to $500. OK.

Then they did more "improvements" and more, and now it's $1,000 per game for 4 tickets.

They are trying to force regular fans out and get corporations down in the first 8 rows, which really sucks for the Dodger experience. Every time I go now, there are fans for the opposing team down there, because they either bought the tix online or are there as the guest of some corporation. LAME

Keep the corporations in the lux boxes, and leave the field level for the real Dodger fans. Lower ticket prices, and stop signing lame people and fielding a .500 team.

This is the best city in the World with the best fans, and the 2nd largest media market. A .500 team isn't going to get it done, Frankie and Jamie. STEP UP.