Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Will Sparse Crowds Be The New Normal At Fenway Park?

(AP Photo)
On April 10, 2013, the Red Sox announced that their nearly ten-year home game sellout streak had ended. Fittingly, the Orioles then beat the Red Sox, 8-5. Of course, that same team—the Band Of Bearded Brothers—went on to win the World Series. Since then, however, things have changed a bit. Disturbingly, last season's two playoff games at Fenway did not sell out. Even during the season—despite a run to a second consecutive AL East crown—lots of seats were empty. Season-ticket holders who used to sell or pass on spare tickets to grateful friends and co-workers, could not give them away in 2017. So, as this off-season has been characterized by inaction, one has to wonder what the impact will be on attendance in 2018. Even if—as fully expected—Dave Dombrowski wakes up and signs and/or trades for a few star players, it may not be enough to re-energize the fan-base. There are other factors at play—lower TV viewership of games on NESN, baseball ennui among most Millennials, and the length of the games themselves. Week-night games at Fenway typically end around 11 PM—followed by a long, harried commute back to peoples' homes. The Red Sox and MLB had better figure something out to bring the panaché back to baseball—or the new normal might just be lots of missing fannies in lots of empty seats.