Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Where are the D-Back Fans?

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune has some questions for Arizona Diamondback fans:

Where are you?

It’s a Monday night in late June, the Diamondbacks are playing the Dodgers for first place in the National League West, and only 24,966 fans are at Chase

Where are you?

The Diamondbacks woke up Monday morning with the best record in the NL, yet they rank 12th in the NL in attendance, with 26,204 fans per game. Only Cincinnati, Washington, Pittsburgh and Florida play to smaller crowds. The combined record of those clubs: 129-174.

Where are you?

They're good questions. Just a week ago I took Mark Kiszla to task for insulting Rockies fans who were simply responding to the laws of supply and demand. I'm not going to apply a different set of rules for Diamondbacks fans, but the fact is that average single-game ticket prices in Arizona -- $13; the lowest in all of baseball -- can't go much lower. Bodrow notes that much of the problem is that the Diamondbacks boast a much smaller season ticket base than most teams -- only about 13,000 -- and that single-game sales are a much tougher nut to crack. However, the D-Backs lowered ticket prices by 29.9 percent before the season. At present, the price of a full-season ticket package for D-Backs games ranges from $5/game for the cheapies up to $110/game for, I dunno, sitting on Bob Melvin's lap. Doesn't seem out of line.

So what gives in Arizona? The Sports Business News blog has a theory:

Delivering a World Series in the teams’ fourth season was amazing. Winning 100 games in the teams’ second season must have seemed unbelievable, but at the end of the day it’s too much success to early on. How exactly was the D-Backs management team going to follow-up their first four seasons. It was 86 years between World Series titles for the Red Sox. The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series in 103 years. The Cleveland Indians who joined the American League in 1901 have NEVER won a World Series. D-Back fans have no understanding of the suffering and pain fans of the Cubs and Indians have had to endure. They’ve only experienced success, not exactly a recipe for building long term box office success.

While retroactively stripping the Indians of their 1920 and 1948 World Series championships kind of kills SBN's credibility, the general point -- too much too soon for the Diamondbacks -- may be right.

For the sake of baseball in Arizona, one hopes that this season's seeming return to winning form will serve to stave off the hemorrhaging of fans, and a solid base of young prospects will keep the momentum going. If that fails: Los Diamantes may want to send an exploratory committee to the greater Monterrey area.