The Los Angeles Dodgers played a day game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger stadium on Wednesday. The Dodgers won the game 4-2, but the real story was the number of fans in attendance, or actually, the lack of fans in the stands.
According to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times it was the smallest crowd of the season, and maybe the smallest crowd ever for a regular season game at Dodger Stadium. Plaschke estimated there was less than 10,000 fans in the stadium for the game.
The official attendance announced for Wednesday's game was 27,767, which would make it the second smallest crowd of the season. But the official attendance takes into account the number of tickets sold, not the actual number of people watching the game from the stands.
Attendance—or lack of—has been an issue all season long for the Dodgers. Fans have been tweeting photos of the empty stands, and stories have been written about it on a regular basis.
According to MLB attendance reports at espn.com the average attendance at Dodger Stadium so far this year is 36,676, down from last season's final average attendance of 43,979. In 2009 the Dodgers led the league with an average attendance of 46,440. This season's average attendance is down almost 10,000 fans from the 2009 average.
The loss of almost 10,000 fans from the 2009 average means more than just more empty seats. It also means less parking fees collected, less Dodger dogs, sodas, beers and nachos sold as well. That correlates to a lot less money going into the Dodgers' bank account. And that means less money to pay the bills, which includes player salaries.
Even Vin Scully, who usually tries to not make any reference to any off-the-field problems, has chimed in. During a rather hot day game last Sunday, I heard Scully try to explain the empty seats by saying there were actually more fans in attendance, but that they had moved under the overhangs to get away from the heat, like they would on a rainy day.
Now like most Dodger fans I think Vin Scully is the greatest, but really Vinny? Just leave the issue alone if that is the best you can come up with.
While the attendance at Wednesday's game was really sparse, in my opinion it is just going to get worse.
Much has been written this year about fans protesting the way Frank McCourt is running the team by not going to games.
The turmoil surrounding the Dodgers because of the ugly divorce battle between Frank and Jamie McCourt, the team's bankruptcy and MLB taking over day-to-day operation of the team has fans disillusioned. And unless a miracle happens and the team is sold before next season, it will only get worse.
Next season the Dodgers will most likely field a weaker team. Until there is a new owner, the team will not be able to enter the free agent market. Without the ability to try and shore up some of the major weaknesses the team has with some of the better free agents on the market, the team's performance will just get worse.
And that is if the Dodgers still have Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. With the team in a downward spiral, one—or both—of those players could be traded during the offseason. While that is not likely, the fact is without a new owner the Dodgers will most likely not be able to give either of those two players a contract extension they would agree to. So trading them might be the only option if the team wants any real compensation for them.
And even if the team could give them the money they want, if you were Kemp or Ethier and wanted to play for a winning team, would you want to remain a Dodger with everything that is going on off the field?
Without new ownership for the Dodgers soon, I see this next season's attendance being even worse.