Monday, July 28, 2008

Not Everything Is Bigger in Texas

While tough economic times don't seem to be hitting baseball's gate too hard overall, the Rangers are experiencing a decline this season:

The team returns to Arlington tonight for the first time since the All-Star Game. Home attendance has averaged about 20 percent less than through the same number of dates in 2007. So far this season, about half of the available tickets have sold for each game on average.
It's a good article exploring just how many different things go into a team's ticket sales. Geography + gas prices and the typical delay you see in on-the-field-performance translating to tickets sold (i.e. don't look to see a Josh Hamilton bump until late in the year or next season) all seem to be sensible explanations to me.

One other thing that interests me is the line in the article about how "Major League Baseball appears immune to the sluggish economy and could set another attendance record this season." Those things don't necessarily go together. How many discount tickets are being sold? How are concessions and souvenirs doing? I ask because (a) I can totally imagine a situation in which attendance stays the same or even increases while revenue goes down a bit; and (b) I am having a hard time imagining that baseball is immune to bad economic times.


Anonymous said...

could it be that the average fan (who would be effected by ups and down of economy) is just not a large contributor to the ticket buying base anymore? the corporations who buy blocks of tickets dont seem to ever slow down spending (unless on employee benifits or downsizing)and continue to buy tix.
if you are effected by gas price going up or down 50 cents in year of course you cant afford more than one game but did could they afford more than one last year? prob not.

RoyceTheBaseballHack said...

Gary Jacobson's article is pretty good- I agree with most of. I like his writing, and he seems to cover The Rangers well. I'll only add a few things, as emphasis to what Gary covers:
1) Arlington is pretty good hike from most of the neighborhoods that their support should be coming from. Not only that, but the stadium is a beating to get to - from just about any direction except the West (Ft. Worth). Especially now, as I-30, right in front of the property, is in the midst of a full-out rebuild. Add to that...
2) The heat. Once summer gets rolling down here, the heat is pretty rough. I grew up in Houston, but the heat in this area is on a different plane. Even people who come here from all over the state comment on how brutal it is. As I write this, the first pitch in Arlington was ten minutes ago. It's 99 degrees at the stadium. It might be 85 by 10:00 pm.
3) A lot of people in the area love The Rangers - but compared to the Cowboys, they're a distant second.
But, I don't buy the comparison about selling seats. Cowboy's tickets are expensive, but they only have to sell eight home games. The Rangers have a slightly more daunting task of selling them for 81. In my opinion, any comparison of the two is meaningless.
4) The TV and radio teams are pretty good, and most of the people I know here who follow the team catch part of every game from either venue.
In summary:
1) The stadium is kind of hard to get to, and mass transit options from Dallas and the Northern areas are non-existent.
2) Traffic around Arlington on weekday evenings is a sonic beating beyond belief.
3) It's bloody damned hot here in the summer.

Anonymous said...


Well, I know here in Norcal the A's attendance is off 4,000 per game from 2007, and the Giants are off 5,000. I've talked about this before, but didn't realize until recently that the CA unemployment rate is 6.9% way higher than national average.

We don't have the Texas heat, but my guess is TX doesn't have our bad economy quite yet.