One never likes to be the messenger with bad news, but The New York Times delivered one more dose of economic warning yesterday (Wednesday) when it pointed out that major league baseball crowds dropped off 40 per cent in the three-year depression period between 1931 and 1933.
In a huge piece on its first sports page, writer Ben Belson reminded readers that in the first season after the stock market crash of October, 1929, "baseball enjoyed record attendance", with the 16 teams topping 10 million for the first time. Attendance took a major thumping each of the next three summers, few teams made money and cost-cutting included dropping rosters from the traditional 25 to 23. "Even the best players--Babe Ruth among them--took pay cuts," The Times reported.
This typist certainly does not have all the answers for offsetting possible attendance and revenue dropoff for 2009 and beyond , but with the new warning--along with all the other signs we see every day--it is a gross understatement to say Independent Baseball teams need to be prudent with their spending and creative on behalf of their customer base, which includes both companies and individuals.
It is tricky to discount your product too much, but there are novel ways of doing so and still developing revenue. The Golden League's defending champion Orange County Flyers (Fullerton, CA) are offering two season tickets in their general admission section for the price of one.
Lancaster, PA of the Atlantic League is sweetening the value for full season ticket holders by including Barnstormers Bucks which can be used for concessions, merchandise and additional game tickets. "We think it's important to give back to those fans who have continued to invest in us over the years," said General Manager Vince Bulik. Lancaster, which is one of at least three Atlantic League teams cutting pre-season expenses by having its team train at home (instead of in Florida), also is driving outside revenue through its skating rink, the Ice Park.
These are only a couple of examples. Look around. Your favorite team probably has its own offers which will allow fans to enjoy baseball without taking out a loan to do so.