No one expected much of the San Diego Padres this year, especially the local fan base, and the empty seats at Petco Park speak for themselves.
With just four games left at home, attendance for Padres’ games ranks 19th at 1,994,239 with an average of 26,239 per game.
In 2015, locals did respond to A.J. Preller’s attempt to take a shortcut to the postseason through a flurry of player trades and acquisitions. 2.45 million fans showed up, the highest numbers since 2007 when the Padres played the infamous National League tie-breaking game 163 against the Colorado Rockies. Last year, San Diego hosted the All Star Game, which may have helped the team to an average of 29,000 per game, which ranked 15th in MLB.
This year, the lure of watching a young team finding its way in the big leagues goes only so far. Of course, attendance at Petco park sparkles compared to the numbers of fans showing up to watch the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s. But both of those teams play in the ballpark equivalent of purgatory. Even worse, only 1500 fans showed up for a game at Marlins Park in May when Miami faced the Philadelphia Phillies.
However, the Padres’ front office must take note of the downward trend, especially the fact that this seasons’ attendance figures will rank among the lowest since the team moved to Petco Park. The Chargers’ desertion of San Diego handed the Padres a “golden chance” (as Jerry Coleman would have said) to seize control of local sports fans’ ardor. But, so far the front office has failed to take advantage of the void.
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While the team on the field doesn’t attract fans, neither do the Padres’ promotions. In an article for sportsbusinessdaily.com, lead author Wayne S. DeSarbo wrote: “MLB teams are leaving hundreds of millions of potential dollars on the table if they unscientifically conduct their promotional schedules.
This year, the Padres took a decidedly unscientific path, choosing to rely on old standbys instead of searching for new inducements. Accordingly, Matt Snyder of CBS Sports ranked the local team dead last in promotional schedule. After all, how many fedora hats do fans really need?
Obviously, the best route to fannies in the seats comes from winning baseball. While fans continue to wait for the promised arrival of such, the Padres need to take note of the decline in attendance and act accordingly (and with creativity).