Thoughts and pictures of my local minor league baseball team the New York Penn League Connecticut Tigers; a Detriot farm team. We'll still be looking at former Navigators/Defenders players along the way....

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Misery loves company? Attendance woes in Altoona..

as reported in today's Altoona Mirror newspaper:

"The Curve won a thrilling game in comeback fashion on a beautiful Friday night, but general manager Todd Parnell had a miserable evening because of lackluster attendance at Blair County Ballpark.

‘‘I feel like tonight is just a punch in the gut,’’ Parnell said in a candid interview during the game.

The Curve beat Erie, 10-9, to snap a six-game losing streak. (See Covering the Bases on Page B3 for details.)

The game drew 3,729 fans to Blair County Ballpark, and the franchise expected a much bigger turnout on a sunny, 71-degree night.

The root of the problem was a poor walk-up crowd of 518, less than half the Curve’s projected figure of about 1,100. The bulk of a game’s attendance is from presold tickets, and the weather heavily affects the walk-up crowd.

When fans aren’t turning out on a beautiful night, it sends up a red flag.

Parnell, so discouraged he even teared up at one point during the interview, wants to make sure the fans of Altoona and the region know the importance of continuing to support the franchise.

‘‘I’m speaking from the heart,’’ said Parnell, in his seventh season at GM. ‘‘I’m very disappointed tonight. ... It’s one of the more disappointing turnouts that we’ve had here.’’

The Curve have seen their attendance average dip 10.9 percent the past two years. It’s become a given that games in April and May won’t draw particularly well because of bad weather, and Parnell understands that. The franchise is averaging 4,075 fans per game, ahead of last year’s pace of 3,895 at this point.

Something about Friday’s turnout, though, sparked Parnell’s emotions. The GM is known for working 16-hour days and putting everything he has into the franchise, so it devastates him to see disappointing crowds.

Tears built up in his eyes when he talked about how living the job prevents him from spending time with his wife and two daughters.

‘‘When you come home nine nights in a row and your whole family’s asleep, you know that it’s worth it when the [ballpark] is packed and people are making lifetime memories,’’ Parnell said. ‘‘But when you do all the things that we’re doing and it’s not [packed], and the walk-up’s half of what it was this time last year, as a human being, how can you not wonder.’’

Wonder about? Parnell wouldn’t expound on that, but he may have been discussing his future role with the franchise if attendance continues to slide.

‘‘This is definitely not Parney saying show up or else,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s not me saying that. It’s saying we’re bride and groom with the fans, we’re married with the fans and we’ve got to keep doing whatever we can to make the marriage better every single year.’’

He stopped short of challenging the fans to show up.

‘‘We’re all in,’’ he said of the franchise’s commitment. ‘‘We need [the fans] to continue to be all in, too.’’

The reality of today is that gas prices are soaring, and the Curve typically have drawn a large number of fans from relatively far distances. That and the state of the economy might be making it tough on peoples’ pocketbooks.

This also is the Curve’s 10th season, so there may be a lot of ‘‘been there, done that’’ attitude.

The franchise has high expectations for attendance, but it may be up against some tough obstacles.

It’s also early in the season, and historically, attendance has picked up substantially as summer approaches. Parnell believes that will be the case this year, too, but that didn’t stop him from being discouraged Friday.

‘‘I’m very disappointed in tonight,’’ he said. ‘‘I know we can all do better.’’

From the EL website attendance figures season to date:

Team Yesterday Total Openings Average
Reading 46,109 9 5123
Portland 65,254 13 5019
Trenton 6,045 62,898 13 4838
New Britain 4,694 63,460 14 4532
Altoona 69,279 17 4075
New Hampshire 55,003 14 3928
Bowie 7,881 46,525 15 3101
Akron 39,544 13 3041
Binghamton 1,871 41,148 18 2286
Erie 19,829 10 1982
Harrisburg 2,837 23,172 14 1655
Connecticut 25,633 16 1602

4 Comments:

Blogger LC said...

Totals followed by number of gate openings
Reading 46,109- 9
Portland 65,254- 13
Trenton 62,898- 13
New Britain 63,460- 14
Altoona 69,279- 17
New Hampshire 55,003- 14
Bowie 46,525- 15
Akron 39,544- 13
Binghamton 41,148- 18
Erie 19,829 - 10
Harrisburg 23,172- 14
Connecticut 25,633- 16
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Eastern League attendance a hot topic
Posted by GEOFF MORROW/Of The Patriot-News May 03, 2008 23:14PM
Categories: Baseball - Harrisburg Senators
While struggling attendance figures at Commerce Bank Park, home of the Class AA Eastern League Harrisburg Senators, will be examined in Sunday's editions of The Patriot-News, the issue of fans in the stands isn't limited to City Island.

There's good and bad news elsewhere in the Eastern League. First, the bad:

Altoona Curve general manager Todd Parnell actually shed some tears discussing Friday night's attendance as the Curve hosted the Erie SeaWolves at Blair County Pallpark. "I feel like tonight is just a punch in the gut," Parnell said during Friday's game. "I'm speaking from the heart. I'm very disappointed tonight. ... It's one of the more disappointing turnouts that we've had here." Parnell was talking about a crowd of 3,729 fans, a night the first-place Senators drew 2,221 for a victory over the Reading Phillies.

For more on the Curve attendance "woes," see Cory Giger's story in the Altoona Mirror.

But there's good news out there, too. The Binghamton Mets, New Britain Rock Cats and Portland Sea Dogs set April attendance records, thanks in part to warmer-than-usual temperatures in the northeast sector of the Eastern League.

Fans and readers, feel free to discuss the attendance issues on the PennLive forums. Why do you think the figures are low early in the season? Is this something the front office needs to be worried about, or are you confident the numbers will pick up as the season progresses?

2:09 PM

 
Blogger LC said...

Jake Wald back in CT. Jake throws some good leather.

Olmo was doing well- and this will undoubtedly cut his playing time. Too bad, I think he is a great bat in the lineup.

Ct is off to a great start today. That park must be set at a high altitute or something, because with the lack of strikeouts and high averages/home runs, the air seems a little thin.

2:15 PM

 
Blogger greg8370 said...

Wonder what the Defs roster move, if any, to get Jake in?

2:41 PM

 
Blogger bacci40 said...

gas prices will most definitely impact on overall attendance...i live about 1 hour from any minor league park, and i usually go to at least a dozen games a year...but now, i have to rethink that...but over 3k for an aa game is pretty good

6:27 PM

 

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