Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dodger Stadium's empty seats.

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Several times throughout this saga, we've discussed a pretty important core principle: while we outsiders can't pin down the degree to which the divorce is affecting team spending (if at all), the most direct way it could affect operations is if people stop showing up. In the past, I've guessed that such a thing just wouldn't happen; people care about the Dodgers first and foremost. If the team's winning, people will come. Steve Dilbeck, blogging at the aptly-named Dodgers Blog for the LA Times, speculates about a potential shift of the tides. Noticing what he perceives to be more empty seats than usual, Dilbeck asks some questions:
So if true, the question becomes why? Too much hyper interest in the Lakers? Too many unattractive teams early in the home schedule? Too many conflicts with school still in session?
Or could it possibly be a rebellion against ownership?
Whether it’s over their extravagant lifestyle, not paying taxes for six years, a shrinking team payroll or just their nasty divorce, many have seemingly turned against Frank and Jamie McCourt.
And the only way for people to ultimately protest is to stay away. To punish the McCourts by withholding funds.

Now, I haven't been to a game at Dodger Stadium this season, but I have watched many on television or online. Yes, there have been lots of empty seats. As Dilbeck notes, though, Dodger Stadium is now the largest stadium in the majors by capacity. Recalling my experience at the Stadium, mid-week games often feature patches of empty seats. Unless a name opponent is in town, the mid-week games are the least desirable; LA traffic is so dismal and people have busy lives. Growing up in Palos Verdes and San Pedro, going to a mid-week game was really a five-to-six hour commitment. 


Of course, that factors in significant time spent walking the Stadium after the game, searching for leftover trinkets and generally just seeing the place from a different perspective. Still, getting out takes so darned long that if you're not going to leave in the 8th, you might as well stick around a while. And even the traffic problems around the Stadium come back to just how well-attended the games have been. I know I'm wandering around a little here, but that's what happens when I tap my nostalgia reserves.


Getting back to the attendance-as-revenge angle, I'm not sure I see it. As Dilbeck ably discusses, even most of the empty seats have been purchased, so a consumer choosing to use his absence as a weapon is winning something of a Pyrrhic victory. You're paying Frank McCourt and the Dodgers to punish him. Yes, concessions and merchandise are big revenue drivers, and that all matters. But are we really at the point that we would burn paid-for tickets just to avoid giving Frank and the club money for beer, Dodger Dogs, and ice cream in a toy helmet?


I want you to tell me. I've changed the comment settings so that you can weigh in without an account of some sort. The question before you is: have you made a decision to attend a game based on your personal feelings toward ownership? Would you? 
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28 comments:

  1. Unless Frank McCourt was visiting my home and trying to kill my cat, I doubt I would ever base my decision on attending a game on what the ownership does.

    I'm far more annoyed that I have to listen to Journey during games than anything else.

    Most fans will go to a game if they can afford it and they think it's worth the time. If they hate the owner that much, they should just stop rooting for the team.

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  2. I'm out of town and normally go to 2-3 games a year. I've canceled them. It's mainly due to my personal schedule. However, in the past, I would have shifted things around and made going to Dodger Stadium a top priority. Thanks to Frank and his absurdities, it was a very easy decision to leave things as it.

    And yes, it is a Pyrrhic victory, and yes, you do at least deny Frank the parking money and concession money. However, the biggest benefit of not going to a game and is you are *not* watching the biggest free agent signing of the off-season, Ramon Ortiz, give up five runs in three innings.

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  3. I've been a Dodgers fan for 50+ years. It's only because of Vinny that I've followed them the last few years. I haven't been to the stadium since '81 when parking was a buck, a beer was a buck and a Dodger Dog was a buck. I wouldn't go to the stadium today for a multitude of reasons: the prices, the traffic, the gang element, AND the owners. I've hated what's become of the team since FOX bought it. A once proud, prestigious organization has become a laughing stock. In times past players would sell their soul to be a Dodger, but not anymore. So. whenever Vinny decides to hang it up, I'm done.

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  4. i have not gone to a dodgers game with my family for the past two seasons (this would be my 3rd) completely based on the fact that i am way dissatisfied with the ownership of this franchise. the mccourts have turned this franchise into a punchline.

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  5. I usually attend 2-3 games a year with my family. I will attend no games this year unless the ownership issue is resolved in Aug/Sept. I will always be a Dodger fan, and I can only hope that either Frank learns from this and becomes an owner that we as fans can be happy to support or that the team is sold to an owner that is more interested in a great franchise over a overly lavish life style. Vinny has made it easier to continue following the team. I don't know what the plan is after he leaves, but an acceptable replacement does not currently work for the Dodgers.

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  6. I have gone to fewer games over the years since the McCourts took over, and even fewer where I've paid full price for tickets. Although I admit to harboring some growing animosity toward the McCourts, it stems as much from his/her/their management of the franchise as it does from their personal behavior, which appear to occasionally overlap. My personal drop in attendance is at the very least indirectly related to ownership.

    I understand the team had financial problems before the McCourts got here, so when ticket, parking, and concession prices rose dramatically while team payroll dropped, I could almost accept it as simply fixing a troubled business. But as more details have surfaced about their finances, this nagging feeling that they really are just using the fans as a money tree sickens me.

    I'm not any kind of Angels fan, but the more I read about Arte Moreno, the more McCourt suffers by comparison. It seems that Moreno's approach to increasing revenue is to attract more fans by making the ballpark a better place to be. McCourt increases revenue by jacking prices. Sure, there was the token remodel of the field level concourse, but I can't afford to sit down there since they raised the prices. Perks for the wealthy, I guess. Seems consistent with his character.

    And so many little things are out of sync, the problems feel systemic. The list is too long to trouble with here, but suffice to say I don't want to pay through the nose for animal bloopers between innings. What was wrong with baseball bloopers? You know, something relevant to the game?

    Big things, little things, it all adds up to me being less interested to spend money on game tickets than I used to. Systemic problems start at the top.

    I don't think the question is, Do we want revenge by not showing up? The real question is, Do we feel compelled to get our money's worth? It wouldn't surprise me at all if people are starting to think they won't get their money's worth if they DO go, so why bother.

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  7. I've been to two games. Both times the tickets and parking passes were gifts and I brought In-n-Out into the stadium with me for dinner.

    Total amount of my money transferred to the Dodgers - $0

    Why contribute if they're not going to use the money to make this team better after failing in the NLCS two straight years?

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  8. I don't get to attend a lot of Dodger games (2-3 a year), mainly due to the traffic and distance I have to travel. After stumbling onto this nifty blogsite I have to say that my desire to see/support the team has not waned. I have loved the Dodgers since I was kid and I still love them just as much today. Never have been one of those dudes who pays attention to the brass side of the game. Bottom line: I'll still go when I can and I'll still support the TEAM, even if the circus takes it over.

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  9. The last game we attended was the straw. Gate employee sent me back to the car (my pack out of ten thousand others didn't pass muster) and 1 2/3 innings passed by the time I returned. Spent 3 (!) innings in line for one set of refreshments for my family.

    Shortly thereafter the game was over; we trudged to the car then sat idling in the parking lot for 1 1/2 hours(!) waiting to get out of the parking lot.(At least we didn't witness a stabbing or shooting)

    Like other commenters here, I'll continue to follow the Dodgers live only as long as Vin is broadcasting. After that, I'll occasionally poke my head in over at Jon's site. Otherwise, I'm done.

    I figure Frank has enough money, he's not getting any more of mine.

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  10. I gave up my season tickets this year due to the economy not becasue of the Dodgers. I did go to the game last night and attendence was down a lot, but it was the last place D-Backs, a day after a holiday weekend and the middle of the week. On top of that I did hear quite a bit of yelling in the stands about an Arizona team being racist, meaning I think some people did protest by not coming but it was for political reasons. IMO the divorce has nothing to do with people attending games, winning is all that matters and now that they are winning with rookies it's more interesting. FYI, with a lot of injuries many were expecting them to lose of late and that might of kept some of the casual fans from coming but not the diehard fans. Bottom line unemployment is the biggest factor to the drop in season ticket sales and lower numbers at the gate.

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  11. DodgersKingsFan323June 2, 2010 at 9:20 PM

    Summer rolls around, the team is 1GB for the best record in the National League again, the fans will come. Been to 3 games this year, picked up a 7 game plan, plan on attending another 3 or 4 on top of that :D Ramon Ortiz isn't on the team anymore and they do show baseball bloopers, also how would somebody who hasn't been to the stadium in 20 years even know about gang activity? Don't sit in the outfield seats, simple. You can find Top Deck tickets for $3 at Stubhub. Yes i dislike McCheap but i see it as supporting my team, in the end this "boycott" won't mean squat.

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  12. Josh Rawitch, you tool. Are you trolling Dodger blogs again?

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  13. I bought full season tickets for the first time this season,last year I attended over 40 games. I have gone to about half and sold half so far this season.

    The thing about the empty seats is an old story, I believe both the Dodgers and Angels have their fair share of no shows, I do know that the team with highest percent of fans who show up is the Lakers with a figure above 90%, the Clippers were below 80%.

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  14. Just A Thought...June 3, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    With the obligatory "everyone's entitled to their opinion" caveat...
    Why do people care at all about what the owner of the team is doing so long as the product is entertaining? Do you delve into the personal lives/politics of the people who produce the movies you enjoy? Why would you? The Dodgers have been a very entertaining team the last few years and I'm not interested in finding reasons to not enjoy that. Hate McCourt all you want (I also try not to hate people I don't know- for my own sanity) but what does it really have to do with the product you're consuming? Can anyone make a coherent argument that they're not competitive?
    I enjoy this site and a bit of gossip as much as the next guy but to me it has almost no connection to watching a Dodger game.

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  15. Great points by everyone involved. I'll dive into the topic again tomorrow. Thanks for offering your opinions.

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  16. i went to fifteen games last year out of my plan (cant remember how many were in the plan i think it was 25) when i baseball season started i called the organization and told them i wasnt going to go to any games this year due to the dodgers inactivity in the free agent market and the news concerning the divorce.
    after hearing how the dodgers are run through news from the trials im happy with my decision.
    MLB on android and vin on the television makes it more bearable any day.

    btw even when i went to dodger stadium i never pay for parking and i always bring food from outside as a rule.

    there is on way frank is getting any of my money unless he gets us an ace or the team makes me eat my words and gets to the world series.

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  17. I went to about 25 games a year each of the past 3-4 years. About 12 of those games would be from the season tickets my family shares and the rest would be games I was invited to/ bought the day of the game.

    So far this year, I've only been to 1 game and I don't plan on buying any tickets outside of the tickets we've already purchased. The tickets are too expensive, the parking is horrible and ridiculously expensive, the food lines are too long and the food too expensive.

    I'd rather stay home and watch the games in HD on the plasma

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  18. I take great pride in the fact I was able to see the McCourt's for what they are now being seen as - from Day 1. I knew from Day 1 they had NO money and were trying to eat at Morton's but pay Denny's prices for it. I have paid to see ONE game since they bought the team. I went to see the opposition so I could get something signed by one of the opposing players. It was a large picture. The Rent-A-Cop tried to stop me from taking it in saying "No Banners" allowed.
    I showed it to him and said it was a PICTURE and NOT a Banner and I wanted to get it signed and not show it to all fans. He insisted it was a Banner and I told him it was a picture and I was taking it in and there was no way he was going to stop me. I told him to get a Supervisor over to discuss this - he said he would not get one - and I told him that was OK I was going to walk in with it - and he finally realized I was right and let me go in with it.

    I parked OUTSIDE the lot so as not to give the McCourt's one dime for parking. I did not buy anything at the game - same reason.

    I was a fan since the early 1970s but now I will not root for the team or pay for anything as long as the McCourt's own the team. Frank is a disgrace and easily one of the slimiest and worst owners out there.

    Whe they both owned the team they were INFAMOUS for having "Black Friday's" when they would go around firing employees for no good reason at all - just to do it because they had nothing better to do that day.

    Frank should do what Arte Moreno does and give away a lot of free tickets so the stands will be full and he can get revenue from parking and concessions.

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  19. As for myself, I normally would go to 20 gms a year. Last year was my all-time high...35 gms. This year I've gone to 1 gm (Opening Day) and will be my last for year. My reason is because of ownership. I'm tired of the Mccourts!! Why should I spend my hard earn money on an owner who every season raises ticket prices, concessions,etc.. and will not reinvest on the team's payroll & his long term plan is to keep payroll down. Give me a break!!!..Los Angeles market. Minnesota has a higher payroll then L.A.!!! UNBELIEVALBE!! Ticket prices OMG.. just compare the prices the season before the Mccourts to now...can you say STICKER SHOCK! Now he wants to add restaurants in the surrounding area (parking lot). We want the best players in baseball not Applebee's, Chili's. etc. DODGER STADIUM IS A CATHEDRAL ON THE HILL NOT UNIVERSAL CITY WALK. Is there anyone who feels the same??
    I knew this would happen when Mccourts was allowed to buy the Dodgers on credit/loans. Mccourt has made to many mistakes; One of first mistakes the Mccourts did was to clean house in the Dodgers Org. People that know baseball & maintained some of the Dodgers tradition even with Fox Corp.; What about the parking lot. It was just fine the way it was...ACTUALLY BETTER! It seems that it was just an excuse to raise lot prices for more revenue. Its harder to get into the stadium now if there's more 35,000 fans attending. And if its a sell-out you better get there 1 1/2hr before game time.; Let's not mention the Ross Porter incident...He didnt deserve that! Now we're stuck with Lyons & Collins on away gms telecast (out of division)...I turn off the volume and watch the gm. Otherwise I'ld be listening Lyons talking about his wife's ipod music or what plans Collins has for dinner. TALK ABOUT THE GAME AND/OR TEACH THE GAME FOR THE KIDS!!!! Fortunately, we still have Vinny for hm gms. Well, as you can tell. I'm just TIRED of the Mccourts!!!
    I love my Dodgers since I can remember (3yr old,1973). But now I will root for them watching on my HDTV until something changes if ever.

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  20. I purchased my usual ten-pack on the Loge Level, and have been to 3 games so far this year. The "gang situation" is vastly over-stated. Living in Studio City near the Red Line, I've found it pretty easy to get to Union Station and use the shuttle to the park. Beats the heck out of driving there these days.

    While I'm as P**sed off about the McCourt situation as anyone, I can't give up the Dodgers. I've been following the team since I was 5 years old in 1962, and I can't stop.

    My sole protest has been to wear a Brooklyn cap, rather than LA, until the situation with the McCourts is resolved. Dumb I know, but... well, what the heck else can I do? I continue to hope for new, less-sleazy ownership. Get your g**d**med kids off the payroll!

    All that said, the club still looks to me to be a front-line starter away from parity with the Phils. An acquistion could go a long way toward improving Frank's credibility. We shall see...

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  21. i've been to 20 + games for the last 8 years and so far I've only been to 1 this year - I was very disappointed in the lack of free agent spending this off season. I will follow the team on TV & Radio, however I agree with an earlier post that Lyons & Collins only annoy me. Until I feel like ownership is supporting our amazing core of young talent with signings geared to get us past the Phillies I wiill not be attending games.

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  22. Great game yesterday with the family, we got hooked up with ticket vouchers and picked up a pair against the Phillies. It's a great time to be a Doyer fan! Sorry for people who don't get to go to the ravine.

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  23. Just saw the Dodgers beat Atlanta 5-4 on Sunday. My friend and his girl took me and my girl. HALF THE SEATS WERE EMPTY. Against Atlanta, fer cryin' out loud. ON A SUNDAY!!!

    So of course, I buy the refreshments. $11.00 for a beer. So 3 beers, 4 hot dogs and a package of peanuts is $60.00. I won't be back until it's affordable.

    How many moderate to lower-income guys would like to bring their family to the game from time to time? Maybe several times a year? They can't do it! The McCourts have priced the fans out of the ballpark!

    Hey Frank, why don't you lower the prices and fill the seats? We won't feel the pinch so much, you'll have the same $$ income, and you'll probably build a loyal fanbase - both now and in the future.

    But no - rich a-holes are only concerned about getting richer for their own benefit.

    Well, they got all the money out of me they'll be getting for a long time.

    Hey, Jamie might be the lucky one here - she gets the houses and the income via court-order while the team goes down the drain and declares bankruptcy.

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  24. I keep the McCourts separate from my team. Yes, the McCourts are horrible and yet grossly fascinating; I read your blog for the info it provides, because I DO care how this divorce will affect MY team. Beyond that, I follow them as I would Britney Spears - can't be bothered to take them seriously!!! It's Los Angeles - there will always be drama, even in our baseball! I just can't understand how people would stop supporting their team because the owners suck!!!

    I am a converted Giants fan, been attending 20+ games per season for 10 years now. This season it will be close to 40, with a 21-game plan, plus a 7-game plan, plus individual tix purchased for any time I have free! I went to Vegas to see Loney, Martin, Kemp, Ethier, Billingsly and Broxton play in AAA! Later this summer, my husband and I will travel to Albuquerque to see who the next new Dodgers will be. I love my team and I can't stop being excited about it, and I hate the McCourts, but I can't confuse the two (kind of like I love my job, but I hate my boss). People who dump the Dodgers because of current ownership cannot seriously be real fans :( I do agree with concessions and parking - I have not given the McCourts or FOX a penny beyond my ticket price in 10 years. It's easy for me to walk in and bring a Subway sandwich, some fried chicken, tacos or calzone! But I will NOT stop going to games, ever, even though I see things getting worse before they get better...

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  25. Even during the Garvey Cey years there were lots of paid for empty seats on weeknights. There are enough well to do people who own these season seats who are not going to miss the funds from games they do not attend. As a Dodger fan going back to the Koufax era there have always been empty seats. Dodger stadium is a destination for people in southern california.The fans will attend regardless of the Disgusting owners who have shown there greed as they destroy this team. While there are some hard core baseball fans at the stadium most people go just to go. It is kind of like eating a Dodger dog. They are putrid, I suspect they may be made with lips, hoofs and rectums. Thank goodness they have those machines with cranks that you you can smother them in relish, onions, and mustard so they do not taste like they ran in the first race at Santa Anita. Yet the fans are also programmed to buy these items. Plus $7.00 for a urine warm beer. Or of course $7.00 for a flat soda . Yet folks spend 100`s of millions of Dollars on these items because again it is part of the whole lets go to the Dodger game on a nice warm so. cal. night. McCourt and his wife understand this . even as information comes out on what greedy disgusting people they are, and how they only care about the money. The Dodgers will still be #1 or #2 in attendance.When Fox was buying the team from the O`Malleys I was excited that with there corporate wealth the Dodgers would become a championship team. Then the president of Fox traded Mike Piazza behind the back of the GM Fred Claire. Of course that was the end of Clare who brought us the 1988 championship team.There was no way Fox was going to give Piazza a 100 million dollar contract. Then when Fox sold the team to the McCourts I thought well maybe. They had a few good years with some young talent that was scouted before McCourt. Now the team is in a free fall. How far down the ladder will it go. As we can see what type of ruthless people own the Dodgers. Mr. McCourt is going to have to explain to his 4 children why he does not want to split all the assets and move on.What do you think this guy will do to the team.

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  26. I'm out. After holding season tickets since 1978, I refuse to give that bad news family another dime. I am going to as many games as possible since the 2010 season is paid for...but this will be the last season. It is heartbreaking for me, I grew up on the Dodgers, in the same seats since 1978.

    I just wish they had finalized this in the beginning of the season...maybe I would have stayed because what I am really hoping is that they have to sell the team. I will be out great season tickets, but my beloved Dodgers, our beloved Dodgers, can get back to being a baseball team.

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  27. Wow. All I Hear Is A Bunch Of People Leaving A TEAM For A Reason That's Out Of The Team's Hands. Almost Every Player That Was In The Last Two NLCS LineUp Was Here At The Start Of The Year.
    The McCourts Didnt Make Manny, Andre & Matt Have Down Years. Frank Didn't Blow Every Game Is The 2nd Half. The Divorce Didn't Swing At The Breaking Ball Away With An 0-2 Count.
    Anyone Who Stops Supporting The Dodgers After Being A "Fan" For The PastWhatever Years Is Fake. I Go To About 15 games A Year, Because I Enjoy Watching My TEAM Play. I Buy Every Ticket With A Smile :) Could Care Less Where The Money Goes As Long As I'm There Cheering My Team.
    If You Guess Quit When Times Get Tough Then You Should Leave The Los Angeles Dodger Family, Like Torre. Never Once Have I Heard The Great Tommy L. Cry About The Owners, and Neither Should Real Fans.
    To Fake Fans, Go Watch A Laker Game Or Something.

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  28. I think that TRUE Dodgers fans want what is best for the team....and what is best for the team is that the Mccourts are forced to sell. Bring in some better ownership that actually care about the fans and putting a winning ball club on the field for us to root for. We need to think long temr on this one. I am a die hard fan, and have not been to one game the past two seasons. I listen to Vinny still, but thats it. I dont buy any shirts, hats, etc. Mccourt isnt getting one more penny from me. I cant wait to cheer for the Dodgers again in person, knowing that the owner cares about the team as much as I do. Our current owner is a crook who pays less taxes every year than most Dodgers fans do.

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