Updated Nov 27, 2012 - 11:00 am
Mariners earn unwanted spot atop new list
A new analysis by 24/7 Wall St. reveals Seattle saw a 51.4 percent decline over the past decade. Stadium capacity last year was just 44.4 percent, a Major League Baseball low. And the study finds season ticket sales have plummeted by 61 percent since 2002.
It's understandable. The report says on-field performance is the biggest driver of attendance. The Mariners stumbled to a third straight losing season in 2012, finishing the year last in the AL West with a 75-87 record.
All those empty seats mean more than just lost ticket revenues. A fan who doesn't go to the game "isn't going to buy concessions, isn't going to pay for parking, spend the other money in the ballpark or arena that they would have otherwise," Sports Business Journal research director David Broughton said.
Despite the huge drop in attendance, the Mariners aren't about to go broke. Ticket sales are no longer the primary source of revenue.
"Baseball's a little different the way money's made these days," 710 ESPN's Mike Salk said in an interview with "Seattle's Morning News". "They get revenue-sharing dollars from around the league. So all 30 teams put money into a hat and then they spread it out."
An even bigger factor is TV revenue. The richest teams like the Yankees and Red Sox make far more than anyone else thanks to billion-dollar deals with their own networks. But even the Mariners make a good chunk of change from their agreement with Root Sports, where ratings remain strong despite the team's performance.
"Ratings are enormous for Mariners games on TV and on the radio as well," Salk said. "All those people that love baseball still watch the team."
But Salk points out the fewer fans in the stands, the less the team can make.
"All the advertising that is done in stadium is not revenue shared. The better you are, the more people that show up, the more money you can make on in-stadium revenue," he said.
Ironically, the Mariners have been far from frugal over the past decade. "It has not been an issue of them not spending money. A couple of years ago in 2008 they were the first team ever to spend $100 million to lose 100 games," Salk said.
The Mariners' 51.4 percent attendance decline is far greater than any other team. The Cleveland Indians saw attendance drop 38.7 percent over the past decade, while the Houston Astros lost 36.1 percent of their fans during the same 10-year span.
Follow Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com Reporter
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