Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why are the Giants always near the top of the MLB in attendance?

I've been to two Giants games so far this season, a fairly dismal, freezing, windblown 5-2 loss to the Phillies on Monday, April 16, and a much happier, not to mention warmer, win over the Brewers (coincidentally, also 5-2) this past Saturday afternoon. These two games, while having markedly different results, did have one thing in common, which they share with virtually every other Giants game that's played at the Home Yard: it was fucking packed. How come?

I mean, it's a reasonable question. Why are the Giants consistently in the Top 5 in Major League Baseball in attendance?

So far this season, going by average attendance per game, the Giants are in 3rd place with 41,545, behind Philly and Texas. But both of those parks - especially Texas's - are bigger than AT&T, so it's not a perfect comparison. But when you look at attendance as a percentage of ballpark capacity, SF is still 3rd, with 99.1%, behind Philly (103.8%) and Boston, of course (101.4%).

So that puts SF ahead of such legendary baseball-mad havens such as St. Louis (93.7%) and even the Chicago Cubs (90.1% - I thought they were always 100% at Wrigley? Guess not). What gives?

Here's a shot from where I was sitting Saturday. Crowded, right?

(Even in the dismal 2007 season - hey Lance Niekro! - the Giants packed in an average of 39,792 souls to see a truly awful team go 71-91 and finish in 5th place. Of course, there was this one guy who was breaking the all-time record for home runs, so maybe that has something to do with it.)

For the past few years, Philadelphia has ruled the attendance game. This is explainable because (1) they've had a competitive team who's been around the playoffs for years, and (2) Philadelphia is such an open sewer of a city, with literally no redeeming qualities whatsoever, that going to the ballpark is one of the only ways to escape the mind-numbing drudgery and daily soul-crushing despair to which the residents of Philly have become accustomed.

Going by percentage, Boston is in second place. Boston, of course, has a rich baseball tradition, which, until very recently, was based mostly on losing, and has an intensely loyal fanbase who will attend regardless of how the team is doing. Then they get there and, in my experience, completely ignore the game and talk to each other, but hey, they're there.

Unlike Philadelphia or, God help us, St. Louis, the Bay Area is a rich and vibrant community with a plethora of leisure time options ranging from windsurfing to queer-positive Punjabi cooking classes to day drinking, so it's not like there's nothing else to do. And yeah, at any Giants game there are your fair share of corporate dorks who aren't paying attention, but that's everywhere.

It's also possible that people come out because it really is the best park in baseball, with the views of the Bay Bridge and the water, the proximity to downtown, and the $9.75 beers. That MIGHT have explained attendance for the first few seasons, but you gotta figure that, at this point, the novelty is gone and everyone who wanted to take in the park just for its scenic beauty or whatever has already done it.

No, we are forced to conclude that San Francisco simply has good fans. They show up to the games, even on super crappy Monday nights against the Marlins, they cheer at appropriate times, they pretty much always stay til the end unless it's a complete blowout, and they generally avoid doing the wave.

So that's it: good fans. Simple as that.


GG said...

I'd rather spend 4 hours watching "Jersey Shore" than a baseball game, and yet I have been to MANY Giants games, for one reason or another: Celebrating a friend's birthday, entertaining clients, taking out-of-towners who wanted to go, professional networking events. I feel like in SF, a Giants game is a "thing to do" that's imagined to appeal to a wide audience and provide plenty of time for interacting with whoever you came with. Even if you don't care about the game, it's kind of fun to go to the fancy stadium and wander around. So maybe it has less to do with the team and more to do with the fact that it's a popular part of SF's social/"cultural" activities?

Tamagosan said...

Because the Giants are the best goddamn team in baseball. Either that, or the bike valets at AT&T are the best goddamn bike valets on the planet.

Your post is the *third* time today that I've read the word "soul-crushing" today online. I should really reexamine my internet choices, but I probably already knew that...

periqueblend said...

I have to say that the bike valets are one of the best parts of going to the yard, since they never, ever, seem to win anymore, when I'm in attendance.

But I think you're getting at the territorial dispute with the As and why they really want to keep that trainload of fans from the South Bay coming up.

And yeah, Philly does suck.

Arden said...

Hey!! No need for the Philly hate. I moved here from the Bay Area about 10 years ago and have watched it grow into a city with a GREAT beer scene, some of the top restaurants/chefs in the country, and lots of fun stuff to do. I mean, it's not San Francisco and it never will be, but I think of it as being like that loveable and scrappy mutt you picked up at the pound. Plus, I pay $875 for a spacious, sunny two bedroom in a beautiful Victorian building one block from a microbrewery. And an artisanal popsicle shop just opened up in my neighborhood, so...we're getting there I guess.

I've never been to a Phillies game so I can't comment on that.

Slag said...

The Giant's ballpark is always packed for the same reason the brunch places are always packed ;)

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