Last chance for boycotters: Dodgers open final homestand
Without any official boycott -- without a major media outlet or public figure calling for one -- the Dodgers have suffered an enormous drop at the gate this season.
The quality of the team play, safety concerns, a heavy police presence -- all factors, sure. Still, a growing scorn for ownership as more knowledge came out of divorce proceedings of how it operated the team, remains my No.1 culprit by several light years.
Fans have stayed away in alarming numbers. And may never come back as long as Frank and Jamie McCourt own the team.
Now the Dodgers enter their final homestand of the season. They have 10 games left at Dodger Stadium for 2011.
Official attendance is down 8,041 per game, or 18%. Official attendance, of course, isn’t attendance at all, but tickets sold. Only one other team in baseball is down even 3,500 per game (Tampa Bay, 4,532). Overall, Major League Baseball tickets sold this year are up slightly at 143,119. The Dodgers are down 570,891 all by their little selves.
The Dodgers are officially averaging 36,677 fans per game, which is on pace to leave them shy of the 3 million mark for the first time since 1995. They have a series of promotions scheduled, so maybe they make it. But with Pittsburgh the main draw over the weekend, maybe they don’t.
The real hit, of course, is at the turnstile. No-shows have left Dodger Stadium a veritable ghost town. There have been games where there were fewer than 10,000 actual fans in a stadium that holds a MLB-high 56,000. That is a lot of empty seats.
In bankruptcy testimony last month, Milton Arenson, president of the company that provides sales of team merchandise, said actual turnstile attendance was projected at between 2.2 million and 2.3 million. Doubt he’s wanted to up that estimate since.
The ownership situation could be tied up in bankruptcy and divorce courts heading into next spring, so just imagine how season ticket sales will go this winter. It is sad, of course, but will go down as one of the major stories of their season. Count on it.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Christian Allen of Gardena walks in section 314 in the right field pavilion during the Dodgers-Padres game at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 31. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times