29 January 2011

The History of Oriole Attendance

I read this entry over at MLB Trade Rumors with the following:
"With this city, with this country, with our market, we should be a city that can have $140 or $150MM in the way of salaries," team president Paul Beeston said at the State of the Franchise even in Toronto last night. "We should be able to support that and that's the direction that we're headed to."
It reminded me of what Ruben Amaro Jr., GM of the Phillies, said after signing Cliff Lee.  I cannot find the direct quote, but to paraphrase: That the Phillies would not be able to lock Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, and Roy Halladay into those contracts without the fan base dedicating themselves by buying season tickets.  Toronto and Philadelphia most likely have similar money to draw from as the Orioles.  Of course, it all comes down to securing the fan base.  Not only do the Orioles (and Jays) need to sell out every game, they need to up their tickets by 50-100%.  Here are the Orioles' attendance over the years:

 What the above graph tells us is that Baltimore is capable of bring in over 40,000 per game.  Tickets then (like now) are cheap as MLB tickets go.  However, it is difficult to tell immediately what these numbers mean.  Oriole fans have always been thought as strong supporters of the team, but those early numbers appear slight.  After the jump, I'll introduce a statistic I call Attendance Plus.

I think what might work better in judging attendance would be to compare attendance against the league average.  Similar to OPS+, Attendance Plus is a comparison where team attendance is divided by league attendance and multiplied by 100.  The difference is that there are no league factors applied.  Here is that graph:

It appears that the Orioles have crashed to their lowest point as a franchise.  The last five years have been pretty difficult as the losing has crippled the fan base.  It might explain why the Orioles are hitting up against there payroll threshold if we take Andy MacPhail at his word.  A conservative approach would require the Orioles to play well, draw back the fans, and then use that revenue to reinvest in the team.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post...I actually read it the first time when it first went up and hve been thinking about it for a few days.

As a die hard O's fan living in Dallas who is exposed constantly to the Rangers blueprint, I'd love to see the O's employ and benefit from the same plan.

We all know the key components; strength in scouting(with a strong focus on Japan and Latin America), fan base outreach, savvy at the GM position, culture creation and enforcement at the manager position, a franchise player that leads the clubhouse, and an owner with the vision to make all of the above possible.

With that, attendance will always be directly proportional to wins, so how do the O's manufacture more wins?

I think some significant pieces are in place, and what we see from Buck, Matusz/Arrieta/Tillman/Britton, and Wieters will be key, but this O's fan still believes that until our ownership situation improves, the foundation to succeed will be shaky at best.

- spp