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Dodger Stadium half empty, and just wait until next year

August 16, 2011 |  3:07 pm

Empty_640 Every bit of news that creeps out about the Dodgers' attendance is worse than the last, and yet somehow you know it’s still worse.

Now Milton Arenson, president of FMI, the company that handles merchandise sales for the team, has testified that Dodger Stadium’s actual turnstile attendance is projected to be 2.2 million to 2.3 million this season.

Meaning the Dodgers are playing in half an empty stadium, which anyone with two functioning retinas could decipher at any game. The good news: You can hurl insults at Juan Uribe and he can actually hear you. I mean, if he ever gets back in a game.

Not all the half-price food Wednesdays, firework Fridays, $5 box seats and bobblehead specials are enough to lure people to Dodger Stadium as before.

Fans are ticked, they’re boycotting without even being organized. They’re simply fed up with the McCourts. And they’re not coming back until the McCourts are gone.

Which means a couple of things, neither particularly pleasant.

Attendance is likely to continue downward the next six weeks as the Dodgers play out the string, using kids and too many players who fail to inspire. The Dodgers are down an average of 7,920 spectators per game and it may climb to 9,000.

And it could get worse.

If Dodger Stadium were half full, it would have 28,000 people in it. The Dodgers have announced one crowd of fewer than 28,000 in 65 home dates this season.

The reason is since 1998, the National League switched to tickets sold for its announced attendance. And the Dodgers have sold about 17,700 season tickets this season. So with individual game tickets sold, they’re likely to always to announce crowds of more than 26,000.

Only next season--with the McCourt ownership mess not expected to be resolved, the bankrupt team unlikely to pursue significant free agents, the Dodgers coming off a second consecutive losing season and its fan base having had an entire year to take in the whole sullied mess--season tickets figure to take an even bigger hit.

Maybe down to 15,000, maybe lower. And with fewer individual game tickets sold. It’s ugly, and the nightmare is going to get worse as long as the McCourts own the team.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: The right-field bleachers are sparsely populated at a May 30 game against the Rockies. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times