Blogging Frankly / Sports

Blogging Frankly: Attendance not a true measure of fan loyalty

Friday night, I was sitting at home in my favorite recliner, having a bottle of my favorite beer, while watching another game in this amazing run by the Kansas City Royals.

I was in heaven, and no, it had nothing to do with my wife and kids being out of town. And it had nothing to do with my beer. It’s early August, and I was watching the Royals play meaningful baseball. They were playing the heavyweight in the American League, the Boston Red Sox. And the Royals brought smiles to the faces of long-suffering folks like me with a spine-tingling six-run sixth inning during a 9-6 win.

I punched the air when Dustin Pedroia bounced into a double play in the eighth inning. And I got chills all over when David Ortiz popped up to end the inning.

So THIS is what it’s like to be in the playoff hunt after April, huh? I can’t get enough of it, and I know there are many Kansas City fans who feel the same way.

Yet, a hotly-discussed topic these days in Kansas City is the lack of attendance at Kauffman Stadium. Greg Hall, an outstanding Kansas City sports media critic, has been reporting on his blog what some in the media are saying about the attendance figures, which are still often under 25,000.

ESPN.com writer Jerry Crasnick wrote in his blog that, “Although one of the games at Kauffman Stadium was a sellout (over the Red Sox four-game series), the Royals averaged 25,180 for the other three — a sign that the locals are not yet ready to go full-fledged bonkers over their team.”

If attendance numbers were the only way of measuring a fan base’s interest, there would be validity to those kind of assessments. On the other hand, Fox Sports Kansas City has experienced record-breaking ratings in the last couple of weeks.

The Royals trended on Twitter after that pulsating Friday-night victory.

I’d say the interest in this Hunt for Blue October is alive and well.

The thought that attendance is the only mark to measure interest in a MLB, NFL, NBA, MLS, NHL or college team is antiquated. This isn’t like going to the movies to catch a new release. People can see a Royals game on TV, listen to Denny Matthews on the radio, or follow along on the Internet in a dozen ways. There’s live-scoring on Yahoo! Sports, ESPN.com, royals.com and other web sites. You have apps on your cell phone that will give you live scoring. And of course, there’s Twitter. If you aren’t getting highlights minutes after they happen from the Royals, you probably have friends tweeting about the game.

Besides, have you seen ticket prices? Parking prices? Concessions? I have a family of five, and let’s say for a minute I live in Kansas City. Even if I was to take advantage of a ticket promotion, let’s say the Family FunDay Sunday, If I bought tickets online, I’m spending $113.50. That’s just for tickets. General parking, bought in advance, is another $10. And while those tickets include $10 in concessions and souvenirs, once you get past a drink and hot dog for everyone, what do you have left? A couple bucks each? Maybe enough for popcorn, but perhaps my wife wants a beer. Maybe my son wants a cheap souvenir. I need a scorecard. All told, by the end of the day, we’re spending in excess of $130 to attend one Major League Baseball game.

How many families can afford to do that more than once or twice a year? I’d almost rather take my family to the parties at Sporting Park when Sporting Kansas City plays, if I’m going to spend that kind of money.

But on the other hand, I can easily save that money by sitting at home and watching Royals games on my High Definition TV. I can have a six pack of my favorite beer and spend less money than I would for one beer at Kauffman Stadium. I can order pizza and breadsticks for my family for the price of what a meal for one of us would cost at Kauffman Stadium. Plus, how many families out there are busy almost every night of the week? My youngest daughter Josie practices twice a week for her Wichita soccer team, and plays at least once on weekends. My son Landon practices twice a week for his soccer team here in Hutchinson, and he also plays most weekends. My eldest daughter, Laurelle, is a high school varsity cheerleader. So basically, when the baseball pennant races heat up, I’m not watching a lot of baseball. Thousands of families in Kansas City I’m sure are the same way.

Not attending Royals games doesn’t mean you’re a bad fan. It probably means you’re either financially smart or simply too busy.

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