Monday, August 17, 2009

Yankees On Pace For Lowest Total Attendance Since 2003

This may seem hard to believe, but the Yankees are 75% done with their home schedule for the 2009 season. Only 22 home games remain and it is a certainty that the Yankees won't reach the 4 million fan mark for the first time since 2004. A smaller home stadium, combined with overpriced tickets and rainy weather have resulted in the Yankees being on pace to draw "only" 3.6 fans to the "new house."

As of today, the Yankees have a total attendance of 2,650,398, according to our attendance tracker. (note, some of our attendance numbers differ from the numbers on, but according to, our numbers are correct). Being generous, we will assume that with the heat of a pennant race and numerous games against team that are over .500 (including the Red Sox), the Yankees will average 47,000 fans for the rest of the schedule. This may be a leap of faith considering they have only seen crowds swell to that size on nine occasions in 2009, but in this scenario, the total attendance would be 3,684,398.

Taking a look at the Yankees' encyclopedia on baseball-reference, you will find that the Yankees haven't drawn less than 4 million fans since 2004, and are on pace to have their lowest attendance since drawing 3,465,600 in the pre-A-Rodian year of 2003. Yankees brass knew this was coming when they announced plans for a stadium that held 4,000-6,000 fewer fans than the previous iteration of Yankee Stadium, but planned on the Legends suites to subsidize those lower totals. With a good portion of those seats being given away earlier this season as part of a price cut, we are left wondering if the Yankees are concerned about these lower attendance totals.

The Yankees are the best team in baseball and are playing in front of a packed house every night, so there is little cause for concern. However, when you step back and realize that the Yankees drew nearly 4.3 million fans for the past few years, you wonder who is being shut out of the fancy new stadium.

As it stands right now, there will be 700,000 - 800,000 less fans who have the privelege of walking through the gates of Yankee Stadium in 2009. Who are the people that helped the Yankees reach previously unattainable attendance marks, but are nowhere to be found in the new place? Are they out of towners who planned trips to NYC the past few years to catch one final (or first) glimpse of the cathedral? Are they the Wall Street suits who had reality set in once the financial crisis hit and are now unable to afford the luxury of baseball games? Are they hard-working middle class families who realized that the $12 bleacher seats and $20 upper deck seats were sold out within days of the public on-sale and can't afford any of the other seats?

We have really learned to enjoy the new stadium. The amenities are nice, the standing room spots behind home plate allow us to watch games from directly behind $375 seats without paying a dime over $20, and the atmosphere during the recent Red Sox series proved that worries about the new stadium being more quiet were unfounded. We just can't help but wonder who is being shut out of the new place.
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