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A Report From the Cutting Edge

2009 March 11
by Brad Humphreys

This just in: remember that image of baseball front office types as slow-witted dinosaurs who had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twentieth century by Michael Lewis? Forget about that – MLB has jumped right onto this newfangled analysis bandwagon. According to a recent Bloomberg article, the Cleveland Indians have developed a brand-spanking new cutting edge ticket pricing system. Compared to other MLB clubs, who may be pricing tickets after consulting the Oracle at Delphi and examining pigeon entrails for all we know, the Tribe hired a consultant to statistically analyze their past three years of attendance data. Based on this cutting edge analysis, the Tribe “learned that fireworks after a game draw an additional 4,000 fans; every one-degree temperature drop below 70 Fahrenheit costs them 300; and when the New York Yankees come to town, attendance jumps 11,000.” If this article is to be believed, the Indians are the only team in MLB doing this sort of analysis of attendance.

Among the other fascinating details uncovered by this cutting edge statistical analysis include that “…when children are on summer break, attendance increases 1,200; if rain is in the forecast, it falls 2,200; a bobblehead-doll giveaway brings in 4,700 people…” It’s too bad that nobody in the Indian’s front office thought to read “Does Bat Day Make Cents?: The Effect of Promotions on the Demand for Baseball” by Mark McDonald and Dan Rascher (which was published in the Journal of Sport Management almost ten years ago), because they could have saved the consulting fee. Most of that information is in Mark and Dan’s paper.

Hat tip to Bryan Goodall.

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