When I went to my very first New York Yankees game back in July of 2005, I was able to behold the grandeur that was the old Yankee Stadium. Aside from an amazing win, the one thing I remember about that game was just how many people were inside the stadium. I was impressed by the fact that 54,220 people were able to fit into the park. However since that time, the old stadium has been knocked down, and a new one has taken its place. Yet despite the new, updated ballpark, attendance just hasn’t been the same. Why is that?
The average attendance for a Yankee game in 2005 was 50,499. That number increased to 53,069 up until the stadium’s final year in 2008. Since that time, and since the new Yankee Stadium has been in existence, attendance has dropped dramatically.
Taking last year for example, the average attendance was 43,733 – close to a whole 10,000 less fans in attendance per game compared to the 2008 season. This downward trend has been the norm ever since the new stadium’s inaugural season in 2009. It has been very apparent too, as the number of empty seats in the stadium has become more and more noticeable. In my mind, there are few reasons for this drop.
The first, and most prevalent reason are the ticket prices. Going to a game at the new stadium costs an astronomical amount – between the actual ticket, parking, food, souvenirs, and everything else, you’re almost guaranteed to drop at least $150 per game no matter where you sit in the park. Even sitting in the first few rows from the field can cost close to $1000 per ticket, depending on where and who you buy it from. In today’s economy, this is obviously a big turn-off. Yankees fans also love to see the team win. Unless they are die-hard fans, nobody really wants to spend so much money to see the team struggle. This will probably be more apparent this year as the Yankees deal with a new-look roster, and multiple injuries to some of their best players. As WFAN’s Mike Francesa says, if Hal Steinbrenner wants tickets to increase in all regions of the ballpark, the Yankees need to bring in some sort of big name in the midst of all the hardships that the team currently faces.
Another reason why attendance has seemingly gone down is due to the corporate atmosphere that the new stadium has. A business will typically buy many expensive tickets for a game, but never have anybody show up for them. While the Yankees still make money off of sales, this is not what baseball is all about, and it dampens the overall feel to the stadium. Instead of having fans visibly cheering and having a good time, we see a lot of celebrities, and regular fans just sitting around enjoying the cushioned seats.
The loss of the old stadium and its rich history has probably attributed to the decrease in fans too. The mystique and the aura of the old stadium did not carry over into the new one, and it’s pretty easy to see that.
This downward trend is not good for the Yankees, and it will most likely continue to go down and then stall before it goes back up again. When will we see a rise in attendance? When will we see a Yankee Stadium that actually feels like a ballpark? Well, that seems to be the million dollar question.