City Pages (Update: On a tip from David Brauer) is reporting today that the constant beatdown at the hands of the opposition is turning the Minnesota Twins fan off. It’s reporting today that the drop in attendance is the second-worst in the league.
Last year, Target Field averaged 38,642 per game. This year, through eight games, average attendance is down to 33,495. That drop of 5,147 fans per game is the second largest in the league, with last-place honors going to Michael Cuddyer’s Colorado Rockies.
It’s true, of course, that the official mammal of Minnesota is the bandwagon sports fan.
Last year, through eight games, the Twins attracted 309,135 fans. Through the first eight games this year, 267,958 fans have gone to games. That’s an average attendance of
34,063 38,642 last year vs. 33,494 this year.
The obvious — at least to a stats geek — problem is that last year the team’s home schedule featured two weekend series. This year there’s been only one. Last year, the Twins opened their home season on a weekend. This year, they opened it on a Monday.
It’s a good theory, but the numbers show the drop this year is even worse than the numbers suggest.
The average for weekday games this year is 33,722. Last year’s weekday attendance was 37,051 on average. If you’re scoring at home, that’s a 9 percent drop in attendance on weekdays. The weekend drop, though, is 16 percent, even though the weather was much better on the weekend dates this year than last year.
Generally, new ballparks give a team a three-year grace period in which people check out the stadium despite the talent of the teams that play there. In the last few decades, that grace period runs about three years. That’s not working for the Twins this year (Cleveland and Seattle, two recent “new” American League parks posted large gains in attendance in the third year over the first year of a new stadium). But it’s not unheard of. The Tigers, for example, saw their attendance in Detroit drop 38 percent in the third year of Comerica Park.
Of course, winning cures a lot of these attendance problems. But the Twins may need a Plan B.