Is Winning Enough to Bring the Fans Back?
For the first time in the 10 year history of the Tampa Bay AL club they are winning. In 2004 the Ray finished 70-91, their best finish ever. This year they may compete for a playoff spot but have at least stopped being pushovers. However, the Tampa Bay area fans haven’t figured it out yet. Since their inaugural season the Rays have averaged under 20,000 per game and last in the AL every year but their first three, which they finished 7th, 10th and 13th. So far they Rays have outplayed most teams but only out draw the Royals. Is winning going to bring fans in? Lets look at some other teams that have had their success turn around.
The Tigers unprecedented 2006 season in which they won the AL Pennant after having the worst stretch of seasons in franchise histoy. Detroit always had a solid fan base Even through the 50s, 60s and 70s when teams were leaving better urban areas than Detroit, the Tigers were always among the AL leaders in attendance. They traditonally had strong teams as well. In the 1990s the Tigers were bad and the fan support waned. Even with a new park, the crowds didn’t come. Last year, the Tigers drew 3 million for the first time ever. In the Tigers case it seems if you win they will come.
The Minnesota Twins have a strange relationship with their fans. They seem as though they are there but they don’t beleive. During the lean 1990s when the Twins were on the contraction list, they were losing and noone was going. Then the team turned around, they were able to compete with the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Mariners and Angels. The Twins quietly won 4 divisions in five years/ Their fans didn’t really notice either. The Twins never finsihed higher than 8th in AL attendance and only drew 2million once in those 4 pennant years.
The A’s love to brag to their cross bay rivals in regards to success. In 1979 the A’s failed to average 4000 to their games. For the most part the East Bay seems indifferent. Of their 5 straight pennants in the 1970’s the A’s were never higher than 5th and were 11th for their third world series. Attendance has picked up recently but not compared to the success. The A’s have not been higher than 6th in attendance since 2000 but attendance has incresed 50% since the late 1990s.
When the Mariners had a winning season in 1991, their first, attendance leapt, over 2million for the first time. The Mariners have not played well the last few years but people still go. Maybe they just have to win once and the people in Seattle would go.
When the Indians were good people would go. They drew 900,000 in 1920. They were amongst league leaders in the 40s and 50s when thye were good. When Jacobs Field opened in 1994 the Indians fortures turned around. They sold out a record amount of games over several season in the late 1990s and the team was always in the playoffs. They have sandwiched good season between bad season over the last 6 season and even last year when they had the best record in the AL they only drew 60% of what they were drawing in the 1990’s.
The Braves had only drawn 2 million once before 1991. They averaged 20,000 only three times. Since 1991 the Chop Shops have had 3 million visitors 6 times and have never averaged less than 28,000. The Braves have also been extremely successful regular season team.
Dispite winning two WS the Marlins have not maintained any momentum. They averaged 16000 in their 2003 season.
The Phillies had trouble drawing until 1950, when the won the NL Pennant. Shortly after the Athletics moved away and the Phillies were able to increase their attendance. They were also able to have some competitve years instead of 100 loss seasons. During the late 70s and early 80s the Phillies drew very well. Attendance took a down turn in the late 1990s and into the 2000s when the team would constantly underacheive. But if the team wins people will show up.