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Sunday, May 27, 2012
The Dallas Morning News
Magic in a number
For Ryan, getting to 3 million
would be ‘landmark moment’
he Rangers are in the minority. They are among
eight major league clubs
that have not had a single-season attendance of 3 million.
The others are Cincinnati,
Kansas City, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington and the Chicago White Sox.
As Yogi Berra said, “If people
don’t want to come to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop
them.” Or at least Yogi allegedly
made that observation.
“It’s a landmark moment for
any organization to reach that
plateau,” team president and
chief executive officer Nolan
Ryan said. “Never having been
there before, that’s a goal of
The Rangers came close last
season, but the combination of
the hottest summer in a generation and few attractive home
dates held them to 2,946,949.
The schedule is again bland:
only one visit each by Boston
and the New York Yankees; the
losing trio of Arizona, Colorado
and Houston for interleague
play; and the fizzle of an anticipated race with the Los Angeles Angels in the American
The Rangers counter with a
strong club that has reached
the World Series in two consecutive seasons, charismatic
players such as outfielder Josh
Hamilton and right-hander Yu
Darvish, and a commitment to
“As we saw last year, everything has to line up to do it,”
Ryan said. “With the interest
level we’re witnessing, I really
feel like we’re positioned for
this to be our year to surpass
What does it mean?
Local television contracts
are fueling payrolls. Deals that
will come on line in the next
few years figured in the Rangers’ ability to sign Darvish and
the Los Angeles Angels’ unrewarded spending on first baseman Albert Pujols and lefthander C.J. Wilson.
Despite that, ticket sales remain a vital revenue stream.
“Gate revenue is still considered the most critical of
streams for all clubs, but media
rights are overtaking,” said
Maury Brown, president of
Business of Sports Network
and associated with Baseball
Prospectus. “I suspect the
Rangers’ deal, which was a watershed, may move broadcast
rights at the local level above
the gate, but it’s close given the
What does a 3 million season mean to the Rangers in
terms of revenue?
The Rangers’ average ticket
price is about $21, in the lower
third in the game. Add the $15
revenue that each person in the
seats generates, and the Rangers would generate about $108
million for 3 million in attendance. Add about $3.6 million
for each 100,000 above that.
A 3 million season gives the
Rangers the financial muscle
needed to keep players and
compete with other big-market
“It’s like being a 20-game
winner,” Ryan said. “You can
win 19 four or five years in a
row, but you’ve never made it to
20. There’s an aura of accomplishment. It puts you on an
elite level, and it says a lot
about your fans and your market.”
All in the counting
When is 3 million in attendance not 3 million customers
in the seats? In professional
Rangers attendance year by year
A look at the Rangers
attendance and how it
has ranked against all
other MLB teams
(Wins-losses in parenteses)
In 1993, the National
League followed the lead of the
American League and announced attendance based on
tickets sold rather than turnstile count. Revenue sharing
was a driving factor in the
change. Small-market clubs
wanted a piece of the revenue
from sold but unused tickets.
Because of the change, announced attendance does not
correspond with turnout. That
explains Miami announcing a
turnout of 22,505 when fewer
than 500 people appeared for a
doubleheader played last August under the threat of Hurricane Irene.
All major professional
sports now use tickets sold for
attendance figures. In baseball,
the lowest single-game attendance in a season usually tells
how many season tickets the
club has sold.
Major League Baseball does
not issue no-show counts, but
industry observers say the
overall rate for a full season is
about 15 percent. That represents a significant loss of anticipated income.
Each occupied seat is worth
about $15 in revenue. A team
with an announced attendance
of 3 million and a no-show rate
of 15 percent would fail to realize about $6.75 million.
The Rangers are playing to
legitimate nearly full houses.
Rick George, the Rangers’ chief
operating officer, acknowledged the club has had a low
2012 The Rangers currently rank 2nd in per-game attendance
Landmarks in attendance
A look at the first clubs to
at the gate:
Best season ever
Neither Ryan’s seven nohitters nor his 5,714 career
strikeouts qualifies as baseball’s unbreakable record. The
same holds for Joe DiMaggio’s
56-game hitting streak and all
other landmark achievements.
The Colorado Rockies hold
the record most likely never to
be broken. In their debut season of 1993, the Rockies set the
single-season mark in attendance.
Playing in mammoth Mile
High Stadium, home of the
NFL’s Denver Broncos, the
Rockies drew a crowd of
80,227 for the home opener.
The turnstiles never stopped
spinning. The Rockies finished
with a major league record attendance of 4,483,350.
John McHale Jr. was executive vice president of baseball
operation for the Rockies at
their birth. From opening day
on, the season had a dreamlike
quality, according to McHale.
“People were so excited and
enthused that it was like a festival every day,” said McHale,
now executive vice president
for administration and chief
information officer with Major
League Baseball. “The support
of that club was just a wonderful thing.”
A year later, the Rockies
were on pace to break their
own record by drawing 4.66
million when the season ended
prematurely because of a players’ strike. In 1995, the Rockies
moved into smaller Coors
Field, which has a listed capacity of 50,445. If the Rockies sold
every seat to every game at
Coors, they would draw 4.1million.
Baseball went to smaller
ballparks because ticket prices
rise when supply drops. Only
four ballyards have a listed ca-
1903 NY Giants
1920 NY Yankees
1946 NY Yankees
1948 Cleveland Indians
1978 LA Dodgers
1991 Toronto Blue Jays
Clubs with the most seasons of 3 million-plus in attendance
LA Dodgers 24
St. Louis 15
NY Yankees 13
San Francisco 10
SOURCE: Texas Rangers media guide, BaseballReference.com
LA Angels 9
Michael Hogue/Staff Artist
Michael Ainsworth/Staff Photographer
A fan signaled his Texas pride on opening day this season. The Rangers are one of eight
major league teams that has never drawn 3 million home fans in a season.
pacity of 50,000 plus: Dodger
Stadium, Yankee Stadium,
Coors Field and Atlanta’s Turner Field. Only one has a capacity that gives its team a chance
to break the Rockies’ record:
Dodger Stadium, at 56,000
seats. The Dodgers would have
to play to a near sellout
(55,350) in every home date to
eclipse the Rockies’ mark.
Postwar low point
In 1951, Bill Veeck headed a
group that purchased the moribund St. Louis Browns. Veeck
had driven Cleveland to a re-
C2 05-27-2012 Set: 18:40:21
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cord-setting attendance of
2,620,627 in 1948, but he faced
a daunting task with the
A year earlier, the Browns
had drawn only 247,131 to
Sportsman’s Park, which they
shared with the National
League’s St. Louis Cardinals.
That stands as the lowest single-season attendance since
World War II.
As the story oft-told by
Veeck goes, he took a telephone
call early in his time with the
Browns. The caller asked when
that day’s game started.
“When can you get here?”
Veeck bought the club with
the intentions of forcing the
Cardinals to move to Houston.
That plan died when brewery
magnate Gussie Busch purchased the Cardinals. Veeck
sold the Browns after the 1953
season to a group that moved
the franchise to Baltimore.
Follow @gfraley on Twitter.
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