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While Nationals See Attendance Decline, Not Worst for New Stadium PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 24 September 2009 01:42

NationalsWith their 14-2 shellacking by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, the Washington Nationals were on the edge of another 100 loss season Weds night before pulling together a rally in the 9th to claim a 5-4 win over the Dodgers.

And while the Nationals now have more losses than they did last season, the club is also set to see lower attendance in the second year of their new stadium, Nationals Park.

The Nationals, who currently rank 24th in league attendance, will see a decline of just under 27 percent (26.92%), based upon the current per game average of 22,623. With 7 home games left on their schedule, the Nationals are projected to have a total attendance of 1,809,865.

Looking at stadiums constructed in the “Camden Yard era” a period of growth for new stadiums in MLB technically beginning with what is now U.S. Cellular Field in 1991, and adding in expansion clubs (Rays, Marlins, D-Backs, Rockies), the Nationals are projected to have the third lowest attendance figure for a club in their second year of a new stadium behind only the Pirates (1,784,988 in 2002) and the Rays (1,562,827 in 1999).

In terms of the percentage of decline from first to second year of a new stadium, the Nationals see the 7th largest decline at 26.92 percent, just barely edging out the Tigers at 26.93 percent for their decline from 2000 to 2001 at what is now Comerica Park. The Tigers are followed by the Pirates (38.09 percent from 2001 to 2002 in PNC Park), Brewers (42.75 percent from 2001 to 2002 in Miller Park), the Rangers (44.05 percent decline from 1994 to 1995 at the Ballpark at Arlington), Marlins (58.19 decline from 1993 to 1994 in what was is now Landshark Stadium), and finally the then Devil Rays (60.37 percent decline from 1998 to 1999 in Tropicana Field).

Outlining that fans love that “new stadium smell”, of the 20 stadiums opened during the Camden era, 15 of them see attendance declines, with only one of them (Busch III) seeing an increase in attendance while posting a losing season (an increase of 4.08% in 2007, the year after winning the World Series while posting 78-84 record). The largest increase the comes by way of the Seattle Mariners in 2001, the second full year Safeco Field was open. The M’s saw attendance go from 2,914,624 in 2000 to 3,507,326 in 2001, an increase of 16.90 percent. That year they posted what is still the highest regular season win total in the history of the league: 116. As the saying goes in sports business, “Winning cures all ills.”

Below is a breakdown of stadium attendance for clubs in their second year of a new stadium:

Table sorted by Year 2 Attendance

Attendance by Ballpark - Camden Yards Era - Second Year
Club
Ballpark
Year Opened
Year 1
Attendance
Yr 1
Record
Yr. 2
Attendance
Yr. 2
Record
% +/-
from
Yr. 1
Rockies
Coors Field
1992
3,390,037
79-83
3,891,014
83-79 12.88%
Braves
Turner Field
1997
3,464,488
101-61
3,884,720
106-56 10.82%
Orioles
Camden Yards
1992
3,684,650
79-83
3,644,965
85-77 -1.09%
Cardinals
Busch III
∏ 2006
3,407,104
83-78
3,552,180
78-84 4.08%
Mariners
Safeco Field
2000
2,914,624
91-71
3,507,326
116-46 16.90%
Giants
Pacbell Park
^ 2000
3,318,800
97-65
3,311,958
90-72 -0.21%
D-Backs
Bank One BallparK
1998
3,610,290
65-97
3,019,654
100-62 -19.56%
Astros
Enron Field
2000
3,056,139
72-90
2.904.277
93-69 -5.23%
Padres
Petco Park
2004
3,016,752
87-75
2,869,787
82-80 -5.12%
Indians
Jacobs Field
† 1994
2,816,716
66-47
2,842,745
100-44 0.92%
White Sox
New Comiskey Park
* 1991
2,934,154
87-75
2,681,156
86-76
-9.44%
Phillies
Citizens Bank Park
2004
3,250,092
86-76
2,665,304
88-74
-21.94%
Reds
Great American Ball Park
2003
2,355,259
69-93
2,287,250
76-86
-2.97%
Rangers
Ballpark at Arlington
1994
2,503,198
52-62
1,985,910
74-70
26.05%
Brewers
Miller Park
2001
2,811,041
68-94

1,969,153

56-106
-42.75%
Marlins
Joe Robbie Stadium
1993
3,064,847
64-98
1,937,467
51-64
-58.19%
Tigers
Comerica Park
2000
2,438,617
79-83
1,921,305
66-96
-26.93%
Nationals Nationals Park 2008 2,297,101 59-98 ‡ 1,809,865 ??? -26.92%
Pirates PNC Park 2001 2,464,870 62-100 1,784,988 72-89 -38.09%
Devil Rays Tropicana Field 1998 2,506,293 63-99 1,562,827 69-93 -60.37%


∏ Won World Series

^ Regular season win record (116)

† Won ALCS

* New Comiskey Park was built the year before Camden Yards, but is considered within the Camden era.

‡Projected attendance for 2009

Look for an article detailing the first year for the Mets and Yankees in their new stadiums, shortly


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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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