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.