Bueller...Buelller...Bueller. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati’s Open Seat Infection

Mr. Redlegs assures Rosie Red that no one saw her step on the first base line. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds have shown that they are currently superior to the St. Louis Cardinals.  It was a close series that featured the debut of Billy Hamilton and some mild temperatures.

How did tonight’s finale to the series only have 21,418 paid at the ball park?  Last night’s 16 inning thriller only boasted 23,894 in attendance, and Homer Bailey’s shutout on Tuesday included just over 20,000 witnesses, so less people were surprised tonight.

Nevertheless, some Reds players were shocked Wednesday after nearly HALF of the Great American Ball Park had been sitting vacant, so naturally they voiced their disapproval on twitter.  But do they have the right to gripe about the empty uncomfortable red seats scowling at them in the bullpen?

Certainly athletes like J.J. Hoover and Sam LeCure are given the unalienable right to moan about the lack spectators in the Natti, and rants by relievers at the end of a lengthy season are deserved.  But their crying didn’t bring more bodies to the ball game this evening, it actually decreased sales.

It is simply pathetic!  However what have the Redlegs done for Ohio’s Queen City, recently?

“Jack squat!” as a man who lived in a van down by the river used to say.  Why else would an old baseball town turn to a college football team in different part of the state to cuddle up to at night?

The Reds are one of the most historic franchises in baseball as most locals will tell you, but they have not been able to reach the World Series since 1990 to add to their respectable 5 championships.  That was back when they were part of the NL West and astroturf was as popular as mullets and animated turtles.  Since the 90′ Reds upset the monstrous Athletics, Cincinnati has had some decent teams, but they never returned to The Fall Classic.

The Reds were swept by Bobby Cox‘s Braves in the 1995 NLCS and in the 2010 NLDS by Philly.  Most recently, the other Midwestern red-legged side blew a 2-0 lead in the 2012 NLDS to the Giants, which they don’t post on their MLB site.

It is a tragic story that explains how even a contending team hosting a rival during an exciting part of the season isn’t a big draw.  Yes, ticket prices and the cost of the game are high, especially with STL visiting, but the Bengals sell out over 90% of their stadium and prices are higher!

Maybe it is impossible for people from a baseball city to comprehend an obviously football dominated land.  Or possibly Reds fans are tentative to support a team that has not proven anything in over 20 years.  Regardless of the reasoning for this madness, it is completely logical for both sides to be bitter.

The true loser is the city of Cincinnati.  If this disinterest towards America’s pastime continues in southern Ohio, there could be dire consequences like rebranding the organization with a better mascot.

How about the Cincinnati Kidney Beans? Then, KB management could give away sweet chili to less fortunate people and fill up seats for decisive September series.

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Tags: St Louis Cardinals

  • Josh Bresser

    I think the Reds’ ticket sale problem is working itself out, albeit slowly.

    I believe you were right on the mark when you said that the city of Cincinnati is tentative to support a team that hasn’t proven anything in 20 years. It’s also important to note that, from 2000-2008, nearly a decade, the Reds were one of the worst teams on the planet.

    The attendance has rose from an average of 21,000 people in 2009, to the present total of 31,000- that’s 10,000 people per game more. It’s been creeping up as the years go by and the Reds are still fairly competitive too- 25,000 in 2010, 27,000 in 2011, 29,000 in 2012, and where we are now.

    Some franchises, like the Cardinals or Yankees, have been fortunate enough to have the ability to put competitive teams on the field for *almost* all of the past decade and/or are lucky enough to be positioned in a big market, so these ticket sales issues don’t arise. However, if the Cardinals were to go on a 10 year losing run (I don’t mean losing as in not winning the world series- I mean losing like the early-mid 2000s Reds teams did- constantly under .500) then ticket sales would definitely see a huge decline, impacting the next several years of competitive baseball along with it (although, due to the Cardinals’ farm system/MLB talent, that’s not at all likely to happen any time in the conceivable future.) They might not fall as low as the Reds’, but that has a lot to do with the Reds’ teeny market size.

    I think as long as the Reds stay competitive, ticket sales will start to rise to a respectable rate. They might not reach the Cardinals/Yankees levels- they probably won’t, to be honest, but a solid increase of 2-3k a year is good news for the Reds. If they can continue that, they’ll be in good shape, although you’re obviously going to get some diminishing returns along the line, as Cincinnati is really a small market.

    TV ratings are huge for this team, one of the tops in the league, so people obviously care- it’s just a matter of shaking the mantra of the Reds as a losing team (and Cincinnati as a losing city) that will bring people to the park, that can either be accomplished by a World Series or 5 (or so) more years of 90 win ball. Mr. Goold for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was talking on Twitter about how Reds fans should be worried about a drop in payroll if attendance doesn’t get better, but I think the Reds’ front office knows that only competitive baseball will bring the fans to the park, and that this will take time (owing to the nature of Cincinnati and the market itself.)

    So, yeah, 20,000 attendance for a pennant race game IS really bad, but things are looking up for the Reds in terms of ticket sales, in my opinion.

    • Thomas Demerath

      Thanks for the well articulated response Josh. I was not aware of a few of the points you listed above especially TV ratings.

      As a baseball fan I wish the Reds and their fans the best, but I am afraid that the previous series was very revealing. Goold could be right I’m afraid.

      Lets enjoy BIG games at Busch and football this weekend!

      • Josh Bresser

        I really doubt that would happen. MLB teams, the Reds included, don’t have ticket sales as their main source of revenue. TV deals and licencing overshadow ticket sales by a long shot. Revenue sharing is a big factor too. With the Reds’ new TV deal set to come in 2016 (or sooner), and with their TV rating (second highest in baseball), they could be in for a sweet new deal. The Indians, who operate in a bigger market but put up smaller ratings than the Reds, got about 40 million in their new deal earlier this year. The Reds’ rating of 8.64 is much higher than the Indians’ 4.0, giving them more homes reached (I think its about 80,000/60,000.) With that said, while the Reds wont come close to LA’s 250+ million a year, something in the 45-55 million range is likely. Compared to the ~10 they get now, that’s a huge increase.

        That, combined with rising attendance (the Reds have been consistently in the top 10 risers for the past few years now) means that, in all likelihood, the Reds are going to UP the payroll.