St. Louis Cardinals: On-field slump leading to attendance slump

Johan Oviedo #59 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Johan Oviedo #59 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals fans are well known for their support of the team but during their recent slump, attendance has dipped heavily.

For years, the constant factor for the St. Louis Cardinals has always been hometown crowds. Ownership has mentioned how attendance numbers have boosted the Cardinals’ spending abilities into the top third of teams despite them being a mid-level market as a whole.

When attendance dipped and disappeared during the COVID-19 pandemic, the team was hit hard financially and obviously wanted to get back to full attendance as soon as possible. The thought was that fans would also want to get back in the stadium as soon as possible, but that has yet to be the case.

As the Cardinals have struggled through an 8-17 June, allowed attendance at Busch Stadium has returned to full capacity. Interestingly though, fans haven’t appeared to be rushing to return to their seats.

Since the Cardinals returned to full capacity at Busch Stadium on June 14, they have played eight home games. As of writing before the second game of the Arizona series, the Cardinals have faced the Marlins, Pirates, and now Arizona, averaging just 28,395 fans. At capacity, Busch Stadium can hold 45,538 total fans.

For historical context, in 2019, the Cardinals were second in MLB attendance with 42,967, in 2018 they were third with 42,019, in 2017 they were 42,567, and in 2016, second with an average of 42,524 fans. For reference, the Cardinals did not make the playoffs for three of those four seasons, but fans still showed up.

For whatever reason, that hasn’t been the case this year. As far as total averages go, the Cardinals are 7th right now in average attendance with 18,271, but the games have certainly felt light as far as fan attendance goes. Attendance averages so far to this point are also skewed by each individual stadium and when they opened back up for attendance. For reference, two of the teams that opened up their stadiums first are one and two in average attendance.

When you consider all the other factors and the fact that the sample size of attendance is only eight games, the narrative that all of the sudden, Cardinals fans are “waking up” and not buying the product kind of falls apart, but it is certainly something to watch as the season goes on.

All of the averages will jump up as more people come back to games, but if Cardinals fans aren’t attending games, the ramifications for how the team responds could be huge. Fans have every right to not attend if they don’t like the product, but the double-edged sword is that fans not attending is going to hurt the team’s ability to overspend their market as they have in years past.

dark. Next. Johan Oviedo showing he needs more time

There is no reason to sound a huge alarm yet over eight games, but keep an eye out for what the nightly attendance numbers are as things open back up and more NL Central rivals come to town.

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