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Thread: Merged: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark / What is up With Our Fans?

  1. #1
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    Merged: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark / What is up With Our Fans?

    Column by The Post's Lonnie Wheeler

    A caller on the radio the other night said he could understand why the Reds didn't draw so well over the weekend because, after all, there were select volleyball tournaments going on and confirmations and proms and whatnot. There were also track meets and high school baseball games and high school softball games and Knothole games and select soccer games and AAU basketball games and tennis matches and choral contests and spring weddings and yards to mow and boats to crank up and what, do you think dinner cooks itself?

    Bear in mind, also, that sports and church and dancing and singing and marrying and grass and outdoor recreation are all unique to Cincinnati. They obviously don't have those things in Milwaukee, where the Reds played on an April weekend with nothing in particular at stake and drew an average of 31,589 patrons, and certainly not in St. Louis, where, in the brand newest Busch Stadium, their games were seen by sold-out houses of 40,000 and something.

    But ours is an unusually distracted city, which apparently is why the Reds came home to play Houston in a series that would decide first place and only 24,873 were interested enough to show up on Saturday and 22,814 on Sunday. Friday was better, nearly 10,000 sunshiny souls walking up to swell the audience to 32,089. That was the night the home team beat Roy Oswalt for the first time ever and took over the division lead and set up what figured to be a whopping weekend.

    There was also the NFL draft on Saturday, and maybe the sports fans who don't have kids playing one thing or another all over town were watching it, Marvin Lewis' team being the rage and all. But the Bengals' first pick didn't come until after the Reds had beaten the Astros again. And what was the excuse for Sunday?

    Was it the gray sky? Must we have perfect weather to take in a ballgame around here?

    And why were there only 20,900 at Great American Ball Park to watch Bronson Arroyo daub and stroke another compelling canvas Monday night against St. Louis, the regional rival and arch-exposer that came to town tied with the Reds for first place? Tuesday's afternoon crowd of 25,127 was businesslike, as far as that goes, but not of Cardinal proportions - not the type of gathering that should have witnessed a ninth-inning, statement-making, 3-2 victory over the division bully, completing a brief but heady homestand that kept the Reds in first place all by themselves, and with the best record in baseball.

    This is not to disparage any Cincinnatian who opted for other pursuits over those five days of big-league drama. Having a life is a fine thing. What's more, it isn't the fans' job to get the stadium; it's the ballclub's to see that they do.

    But one can only wonder what more the current Reds can offer their constituency. They just completed the best April in team history. They have underdogged their way to the top of the NL Central. They have put forward a pop star in Arroyo, a sensation in Brandon Phillips and a young stalwart in Edwin Encarnacion. They have hit far, run fast and pitched better. Under owner Bob Castellini, general manager Wayne Krivsky and manager Jerry Narron, they have made the most of the right moves, all the while demonstrating a refreshingly earnest competitiveness.

    Is it disapproval over the trade of Sean Casey? Is it the slow reconstruction of a fan base broken down by the insipid seasons under the previous ownership? Is it ordinary Cincinnati skepticism? Is it simply spring?

    "You've got to give the fans a chance," Castellini said Tuesday after the two-game sweep of the team he partially owned before he bought the local one. "This is early in the season and people haven't quite gotten into believing yet. We just have to make believers out of everybody.

    "These fans have had five straight years of losing seasons, and it's going to take a while to make them have confidence in us. But I just know that if we execute, it will happen. I've lived here all my life, and Cincinnati folks are as loyal as they can be. Once they're tuned in, they're all over it."

    Traditionally, the Reds' hometown requires its team to hold its own until school is out. It's curious as to why this is the case here and not in other major-league cities. But it is, and exceptions, apparently, are hard to come by.

    The coinciding commentary is that Cincinnati proper is not and never really has been a come-to-the-ballpark kind of town. Since the days of the Big Red Machine, if not before, the Reds have been heavily dependent on highway visitors from about four states and a hundred miles or more away. Those folks plan their journeys in advance, and for stretches when school is not a factor. They also use a lot of gas, the price of which is at present daunting.

    In light of all that, this season's modest attendance is not really surprising. It's running nearly 1,000 ahead of last year's average for 13 dates.

    But last year, it didn't matter much. By this time, 2005, the Reds had made it clear that they would not be party to the pennant race.

    This year, it could matter. The Reds have given early indications that they can compete with the Astros and Cardinals on the field; but can they do it in the stands? Can they do it in the front office? At the trading deadline? It all works together.

    Castellini, of course, is quite familiar with the St. Louis front office. He was part of it. Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt - whose father was a Reds general manager - lives in Cincinnati and watched Monday night's game in Castellini's private box. Cardinals president Mark Lamping "is maybe the best in the business," in Castellini's opinion. "When we grow up, we want to be like him."

    Informed by the St. Louis model, Castellini promptly separated the Reds' business and baseball sides. The standings now show that the baseball side is catching up. But it's not likely to maintain that pace unless business picks up alongside it.

    "I get the baseball guys together with John Allen's (business) team," said the new Cincinnati owner, "and I say, 'Look, if you don't make the money, they can't spend the money.' If you can't create the interest and get folks in the ballpark and execute on the field, you're not going to have the money to better the team. Everybody understands that."

    Even the fans?
    Reds record while I was in attendance in 2006: 7-2
    Reds record while I was in attendance in 2007: 2-0
    Reds record while I'm in attendance in 2008: 0-1
    "I wish the stadium was filled up every night." - Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Enquirer - February 9, 2007

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  3. #2
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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    Where were those people who bought tickets in Milwaukee??? I think one game was a sellout bc of a promotion. Other than that the whole stadium was empty.

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    I was just talking to a guy at work about this. I'd love to see stats for the Reds' attendance in the months of April and May for the last several years.

    I think part of what takes place here is that since we are (or should be) a regional draw, attendance doesn't pick up until school is out. I have no idea if the attendance history bears this out, but it seems logical to me.

    One thing I've been glad to see is the promotion the Reds are doing with Columbus (half price days). Besides the monumental neglect of the scouting department under Marge Schott, another big mistake was neglecting the Reds county, the region we have traditionally drawn from. And she allowed it to happen right as the Indians were beginning their rise. We lost alot of the state of Ohio to Cleveland during that time. I hope they'll be doing the same for other areas as well.

    Anyone have attendance statistics in past years?

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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    Quote Originally Posted by redsmetz
    I was just talking to a guy at work about this. I'd love to see stats for the Reds' attendance in the months of April and May for the last several years.

    I think part of what takes place here is that since we are (or should be) a regional draw, attendance doesn't pick up until school is out. I have no idea if the attendance history bears this out, but it seems logical to me.

    One thing I've been glad to see is the promotion the Reds are doing with Columbus (half price days). Besides the monumental neglect of the scouting department under Marge Schott, another big mistake was neglecting the Reds county, the region we have traditionally drawn from. And she allowed it to happen right as the Indians were beginning their rise. We lost alot of the state of Ohio to Cleveland during that time. I hope they'll be doing the same for other areas as well.

    Anyone have attendance statistics in past years?
    You could cherry pick them by boxscore here

    http://www.retrosheet.org/

    As for historically here's some more on that, but I believe that Marge Schott blew it too, the Reds had teh horses to go superstation back then, Marge made sure that that direction would never be taken.

    Reds Attendance - A Review

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    Member Phhhl's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    The Reds are doing everything they can, from ownership to the players on the field. But, there needs to be some stinking patience. We're trying to undue a decade of futility here, and people aren't idiots. As good as April was, fans have seen the club sprint out of the gate and keel over dead coming down the stretch before.

    People are talking about it. The city is buzzing. Give it a little more time. Don't expect people to be lemmings.

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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    Quote Originally Posted by Santo Alcala

    People are talking about it. The city is buzzing. Give it a little more time. Don't expect people to be lemmings.
    Well said. And they shouldn't be lemmings. I'd be disappointed if they came back to this franchise in droves.

    My stipulation for coming to town is a winning record post All-Star Break. If not, I make other plans.

  8. #7
    Harry Chiti Fan registerthis's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    Quote Originally Posted by Santo Alcala
    People are talking about it. The city is buzzing. Give it a little more time. Don't expect people to be lemmings.
    Yep. Years of apathy won't be corrected in one month. By the same token, as I said in another thread last week or so, using proms and high school ballgames as an excuse is baloney. Like Lonnie mentions, those kinds of things occur in every other city with an MLB team. So the Reds lagging attendance can't be blamed on Jimmy's parents wanting to see him off to the prom.
    We'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    Since 1995 the Reds have only had two winning seasons (1999 & 2000) and one .500 season (1996). Add 1994 strike and you got the formula for fan apathy. This new Reds managment team really needs to take a hard look at what needs to be done to make this franchise a steady contender like the A's. I believe they are and will do that. If they don't though, they will destroy the fan base and Reds will be with the likes of the Royals and Pirates very soon. They uncomfortably close that already.
    Reds Fan Since 1971

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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    The big fan draw doesn't really happen until the season after a postseason appearance, when the coolness factor kicks in and the casual fans are wearing their Reds gear in public. Even then, there's a challenge in replacing five seasons of disappointment with one winning record. The Reds do sometimes have a big walk-up crowd when there's a big game, but the point about the road trips from Reds country is a good one. You can't really flip the switch and say, "They took 2 out of 3 from Houston, so there ought to be 10,000 more fans in the stands tomorrow night." The winning ways and the happy cool buzz factor have to take hold over time.

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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    This is a wake-up call to John Allen--if the Reds are in it mid-June, fans better start coming to the ballpark or he's gonna get the pink slip
    "Don't trust any statistics you did not fake yourself."--Winston Churchill

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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    Comparing us unfavorably in this regard to Milwaukee is stupid. I don't know why they had 40K for one game, but their average attendances is below ours this year.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/attendance

    We are a small market. 20K for April isn't that bad.

    Also, don't expect the attendance to get much better in 2006. It continued to be bad in 1999, even though by the end of the year the Reds were one of the most exciting teams in baseball. The general consensus then was that a spike in attendance caused by winning would be felt more the next year. (And attendance did go way up the next year - but obviously that was Griffey's first year, so it's hard to tell what effect 1999 had.)

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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    Quote Originally Posted by top6
    Comparing us unfavorably in this regard to Milwaukee is stupid. I don't know why they had 40K for one game, but their average attendances is below ours this year.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/attendance
    Yeah, what's with Cleveland's attendance? It's hardly more than Cincinnati's at the moment.

  14. #13
    Member Gainesville Red's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    If they would send a limo with plenty of beer, and maybe a TV or something (it's a long ride), tickets to the games, and pay UF to just give me a diploma, I'd come to all the games. Otherwise, I'm afraid I just can't make the trip. Sorry.

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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    I for one can't wait to get home from college so I can start heading out to the games. I am going to be gone this summer but I am home for May so I will be heading out to a couple games this next week against the Nationals and Phillies. Its been rough with the Reds doing so well and only getting to catch the games when they play the Cubs or luck into an ESPN game. If the Reds stay in it until June the fans will come out. The Friday walkup sales are a great indicator that there is an interest out there.

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Fans Slow In Returning to Ballpark

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    You could cherry pick them by boxscore here

    http://www.retrosheet.org/
    Here's a couple of dates I did cherry pick:

    • Monday May 3, 1999 v. Arizona, Attendance 13,943 (Note Reds were last in NL Central at that point)

    • Friday May 5, 2000 v. St. Louis, Attendance 42,126 (we're were 2nd behind St. Louis at that point)

    Since that was a Friday game, I picked the next weeknight game at home

    • Tuesday, May 9, 2000 v. San Diego, Attendance 22,435 (still in 2nd at that point)


    • Monday, May 1, 2002 v. Milwaukee, Attendance 12,867 (Reds were in 1st place at that point)


    Not sure what conclusions to draw. Perhaps we are all still getting used to the possibility of winning after so many dismal seasons.


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