I never imagined it would be THIS bad. The Lerners must be thankful they only paid a tiny percentage of the bill for the new stadium. According to the official box score, Nationals Park was 49.7% sold for the second game in its history. What should have been one of the biggest tickets in the history of the District instead barely caused a blip. Assuming not everyone showed up for the game, the Capitals' first round playoff game Friday will draw more people, and the Verizon Center only holds 18,277 for hockey.
ESPN has more: "[A Nats error drew] resounding boos from an announced paid attendance of 20,487 for Game 2 at the team's 41,888-capacity stadium. There were more than 39,000 at the opener March 30. Also, the stadium's scoreboards malfunctioned through most of the first inning."
blahblahhblah Amazingly prescient photo, or Nationals Park circa 2015?
What is the excuse? It was 50 degrees tonight, which isn't ideal but certainly isn't stay home from the game weather. I know April is the lowest month for MLB attendance, but that usually doesn't apply when a team opens a brand new stadium. Worse, does this mean the Nats have sold fewer than 20,000 season ticket packages? (It does. According to the Washington Post, the new stadium has a base of just over 18,000, down from the 21,000 for the first season at RFK.) Even though the Marlins lack star power, they're a team the Nats should beat. That should encourage some people to come and see a win.As I've said before, the Nats are in a very difficult position. Washington is not a good baseball city to begin with, and it will take a winner in any sport other than football to draw the crowds out. What's more, Orioles' owner Peter Angelos basically owns and controls the income stream that should have come from television, as Nats' TV revenue was his compensation for MLB forcing a competitor into his backyard. Without TV, the Nats' revenue must come from revenue sharing, merchandising and ticket sales/concessions. If you take away ticket sales and concessions, you don't have enough revenue to build a champion. If you don't build a contender, a new stadium won't be enough to keep people coming. Just ask the Pirates, and Pittsburgh is a great sports city.
It won't get much better this week. According to Nats' Team President Stan Kasten (routinely and incorrectly referred to as the owner by Washington's--and possibly the nation's--premiere news radio station WTOP), crowds in the 20,000s are expected for the remainder of the homestand against Florida and Atlanta. According to Kasten, "It's also good for us. It's the right size crowd for us to keep learning things." I hope that includes learning how to market to a transplant city that just doesn't care much about the home team.
Everyone thinks I'm exaggerating when I give the Nationals a ten year run in Washington, but so far they haven't proven me wrong.