Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tracking Changes in MLB Baseball Attendance 

Baseball-Reference.com has a handy page (HT to JC Bradbury) where they are tracking changes in MLB team attendance. It calculates overall attendance, per-game attendance, and comparisons between this year and last year. It also allows you to sort the data and it allows you to display the data in csv format for copying and pasting into your favorite spreadsheet.

As of yesterday (May 15th, 2009), teams as a whole have seen per-game attendance drop by about 5%. While the Yankees, as usual, are garnering most of the headlines (especially with their $2,500 dollar a game seats), the Mets, Nationals, and Tigers all have seen steeper declines in average attendance.

Nine teams have realized attendance increases with the Tampa Bay Rays leading the way. That's not at all surprising given their success on the field last year. Studies routinely show that when teams perform well one year, their attendance tends to be higher the following year because the good performance changes fan expectations, ceteris paribus.

The recession is surely hurting teams. Both the Mets and the Yankees have moved into new palaces, which should ceteris paribus translate into attendance increases, but both rank in the top 4 in per-game attendance decreases with the Mets seeing the sharpest decline so far.

As I metioned above, a lot of attention has been given to the pricing policies of the Yankees. It certainly is possible that they erred when setting ticket prices, but without digging deeper into the numbers, it's hard to say how much of the decline is due to factors such as weather, the recession, poor pricing policies, team quality, changes in capacity, etc. The Yankees' new ballpark has a capacity of 51,800 while the old Yankee stadium had a capacity of 57,545. The Mets' new ballpark has a capacity of 45,000 while its old ballpark had a capacity of 55,601. Surely this is one of the factors that explains why fewer fans are attending Yanks and Mets games this year.

Cross-posted at Market Power.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Bad Day for Barbie 

On Monday, Mattel, the toy maker who brings us Barbie and Hot Wheels, reported that its 4th quarter profits fell 46%. What does this have to do with sports? The toy industry, like the sports industry, is another area that is supposedly "recession-proof." The story goes, while we make stop giving expensive toys to our spouses, the gifts from Santa are the last thing to go.

Just like the old adage that states, "If you make something idiot-proof, someone will invent a bigger idiot," the magnitude of this recession is likely to expose just how recession-proof some things like professional sports really are.

Of course, in an industry characterized by price discrimination and low marginal costs, any attempt to identify a drop in demand solely by looking at quantity (that is, attendance) are almost certainly doomed to failure. Look for full stadiums and arenas but lower ticket prices and a huge increase in the number and variety of promotions in the coming months.

The silver lining for the big leagues in the Mattel profit report? American Girl dolls, the company's top-of-the-line, ultra-expensive model was one big seller this holiday while sales of $7.99 Barbies and $0.99 die-cast Hot Wheels cars fell. If the ultimate luxury is the last thing to go, that's good news for the NFL but not so good news for minor league baseball or the dear, departed Arena Football League.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Arena Football League to Go On in 2009 - For Now 

The Arena Football League has decided not to suspend the upcoming season.
The Arena Football League's 2009 season is on — for now.

The AFL's board of directors met via conference call Wednesday night but "despite rumors and reports to the contrary" did not suspend the upcoming season.

"The Board will continue to meet regularly to examine any and all long-term structural improvement options for the AFL," the league said in a statement.

But there's still a chance that the show won't go on.

Philadelphia Soul wide receiver Chris Jackson told the AP that the league's players had agreed to take pay cuts and had been told Tuesday that the season likely would be canceled.

Jackson said he still isn't convinced the AFL will play in '09.

"I'm still reluctant to get too happy," he said. "There's still a lot to plan out. We need to figure out how many teams are going to be in it, the finances of it all, and a working financial model for the future. There's still a lot to be done."

Thanks to John for the pointer.

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