Team President Stan Kasten greets a fan at the Dodgers' first home… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
It’s early -- as everyone particularly likes to say when it’s to their benefit -- yet it still needs to be noted that fans are not exactly flooding back to Dodger Stadium like all is forgiven.
You’re talking about fans who feel empowered after having helped to drive out Frank McCourt last season as official attendance dropped 18% and actual attendance fell significantly more than that.
This season, attendance is up, which I guess is encouraging, but not so much as to make any of the new owners believe their simple arrival is going to bring the flock streaming back to Chavez Ravine.
Through their first 15 home games of the season, official attendance was up 1,479 a game. That rates as only the 15th-largest increase in baseball. The Dodgers rank sixth in MLB attendance.
Still, the Giants just completed a three-game series Wednesday, and the Giants are typically a huge draw. For the three-game series, the Dodgers averaged only 36,835 -- and that included a bag give-away night that drew almost 44,000.
Then on Friday -- fireworks night -- they drew an announced crowd of 35,591. I say announced, of course, because baseball uses tickets sold for attendance figures and not its turnstile total. There might have been 25,000 actually in attendance Friday.
Whether fans are upset because the Guggenheim ownership group allowed McCourt to retain a half-interest in the parking lots, they’re still making up their minds about the new ownership or -- perhaps most alarming -- they simply fell out of the habit of going to Dodgers games, it seems clear there is no switch to turn that will bring them back at their more typical numbers.
Through Friday, the Dodgers' official attendance average is 38,825, which if that were to hold up the rest of the way would leave them at approximately 3.14 million on the season.
And that would be approximately 617,000 fewer fans than they drew in 2009, just before it all began to fall apart.
The new owners have barely moved in, so there is much to do, much to gauge on their true impact. And that will happen far down the line.
But for now, the team is winning and most of their lost fans appear reluctant to return. There is still a winning of the fans to be done.
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