Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Incredible shrinking crowd

There might be 200 people at Dodd Stadium tonight. Let's take a poke at possible reasons why so few people are here when it was two tickets for the price of one night:

* It's Tuesday night
* No one had a friend/date/family member to take to the game
* The repeat of "According to Jim" was too good to pass up
* It's too warm/cold/dry/wet
* Real Red Sox fans don't care about prospects
* Minor League Baseball isn't real baseball
* I broke a nail
* It isn't fireworks night
* Cutter is no Tater the Gator
* There's way too much traffic
* Last year's inflated concession prices were better
* When the Defenders have a jingle like the Rock Cats, then I'll consider going
* Holm-Jennings, Jennings-Holm; I just don't know who's the catcher and who's the DH
* Ever since the Navigators left, I haven't been able to support a new team
* There's a baseball team in Norwich?
* They don't win

People, get over yourselves. If this team leaves, it will be the fault of those who don't attend games. So what they don't win; neither do the Rock Cats and they draw twice as well as the Defenders. Stop with the excuses.


thehondohurricane said...

The joshing around is no longer funny to me when a diatribe ends by threatening the loss of the team. Maybe some closer analysis will take all the onus off the fans and redistribute it on a more even scale. Let's look at a couple of issues. And because it seems in vogue to compare the Defs with the Rock Cats, lets start there.

New Britain can draw from Hartford and the surrounding area while Norwich looks to Norwich, New London, SE Conn, and RI. A tiny disparity in population, wouldn't you agree?

New Britain is accessible from every major highway system in Ct. except Route 2. Norwich is accessible from Route 2 & 395 and then you have to negotiate your way thru an industrial park. But if you get to Dodd the parking is free.

Norwich does a lousy job getting youth groups to the day games except for DARE and then it's not filled. All New Britain day games are jammed with school kids.

Perhaps you weren't around a few years ago when Joe Buzas owed New Britain. They wern't drawing flies then either. Bill Dowling came along and whatever he's done, whatever strategy he's employed, it's worked. Buzas proved absentee owenership didn't work, and DiBella is reaffirming it.

Prior to this season the Defs announced over 100,00 tickets had been sold, That's roughly 1400 per game. Where have those buyers been? Or did they sell them to the dummies left over from the ESPN filming last year?

Season ticket sales appear to be weak. I don't understand why the Norwich/New London business community isn't participating on a larger scale. This appears to be uncharted territory that has been either ignored or conceded.

You can chide the weather factor all you want, but until you vacate the press box and bring a lap top into the seats some cold April night or 90 degree Sunday afternoon, I don't want to hear any more on that issue.

The major league affiliation is a book unto itself, but suffice it to say the Giants have not exactly given us players to go gaga over except for a few pitchers.

Lastly, the media coverage is limited. How is the Hartford market going to be attracted to Dodd, if there is no TV,radio, or print coverage into that area?

I guess this was more then a couple of issues, but I believe there are more problems concerning attendance then fan apathy and I've tried to introduce them. Some may not be valid, but I think they are all worth consideration.

Now, hopefully, we can start to talk some baseball and get into the issues with our last place Defenders.

Joe said...

If you don't think the team leaving is real possibility, then its time to wake up. The fact of the matter is that it can happen. Then what? This time next year when the franchise is a lame duck you are going to say that you didn't see it coming?

Yes, New Britain has a larger market, but I'm not talking about the Defenders getting 4,500 a night. They can't get 1,000. The surrounding areas for the Defenders and Rock Cats are not even close in population. The Rock Cats have well over a million people in its metro area. The Defenders may have a quarter of that. Keep in mind that once you get 20-30 minutes into Rhode Island, you are talking PawSox territory.

Why the business community has turned its back on the team, I don't know. It appears it may be a combination of a bad taste left by previous ownership/refusal to go down that same street and risk the same and simple disinterest.

If you look at the game-by-game attendance figures, the number tends to be around 1,400 with a few exceptions. Despite that, the average is hovering near 2,000.

As for leaving the pressbox: While you may think I sit in some ivory tower and don't know what it's like to be a ticket-paying patron, you are wrong. First, when I am in the pressbox, there is no heat or AC, so we feel whatever the elements are but to a lesser extent. Second, I've attended more than enough games to know that if you want to be at the stadium, you'll be at the stadium. Last season I went on my own and -- get this -- with my own money to games which involved rain delays. I put on a poncho and sat in the stands until the game ended or was postponed. So when you feel like calling me out, make sure you know what you are talking about.

No, the offensive players that have come through have no performed as expected with the Defenders. A couple have done well in Triple-A (see Schierholtz) but some have failed to even scratch the surface.

The Hartford market should be attracted to come to Dodd, but as one television staffer told me; Norwich is too far to go for just a baseball game. When they want baseball highlights, they'll stay closer to home.

Everyone wants to harp on the record, like that determines the entertainment value. How many times do I or as was mentioned this weekend -- Felipe Alou -- say it: teh Giants aren't looking at the team's record. They want to see players and they are happy with what comes through Norwich. Trust me, its frustrating when it seems like I am writing the same game story: a 2-0 Defenders loss every night. Is this team as bad as it has played? No, but its not given me reasons to believe that it's more than average.

But here's the thing, if people feel the Defenders aren't doing enough to draw them in, let them know. Simply not showing up doesn't do it. No, the fans aren't the only ones to blame. You have one paper that covers the Defenders, poor radio and television advertising (which I think is a big no-no), and, yes the location sucks but that's not going to change.

In my opinion, the Defenders have done a lot to make coming to Dodd more appealing and the response has been lukewarm at best. I don't think absentee ownership is teh problem. If it is -- and maybe I don't see it -- then Lou DiBella needs to consider selling the team to someone local, like one of the casinos.

greg8370 said...

One point I'd really like to take up here is the involvement of the business community. I pulled out a 1997 Navs pocket sked and here is a list of business that had freebies that season:
Better Val-U, Franklins Impressions, Bob's Stores, Coke, Courtesy Dodge, People's Bank, The Day, Holdridge's, McDonald's, Readers Digest, Mystic Hilton, Thames Printing, Steak Loft, Foxwoods, C & C Bagel, Groton Chiro, North End Deli, World Gym, Don Mallon Chevy, IHOP, Bud, Xtra Mart, Chelsea Groton Savings, CT. Lottery, Upper Deck, Norwich Savings Society, Bell Atlantic, Peoples Bank, Falvey's, Backus Hospital, Liberty Bank, SNET, Flanders Fish Mart, Arrow Paper, Genesee Beer, Donner Photo, Olde Mistick Village, Treats Pools, and Ocean Quest.
10 years later Falvey's, The Day, Xtra Mart and Chelsea Groton remain. A couple of the above are GOB but everyone else is still around and that list is much longer than this year's.
If they were on board 10 years ago why can't they be on board today? It's a new front office so whatever bad feelings, if that is the deal, should be able to be worked out. What kind of outreach has happened,

And hondo's point about those 100,000 tickets is an interesting one.

Joe said...

That's right. The problem is that businesses either have closed the door on the Defenders because of whatever happened in the past or just haven't taken the time to see this is a better experience than even a year ago.

The 100,000 tickets includes group sales and non-season tickets. Maybe there is some big dates coming up (I know of one -- Armed Forces tribute night is a near sellout), but the proof is in the pudding. One of the drawbacks to having inexpensive ticket prices is that if people change their minds and not attend games that take place, that's a ticket sold but not a butt in the seat. But the point is the $8 loss is not a big deal. Still, that's not likely a big factor.

No Negative Vibes Guy said...

Lets talk why fans will want to come to Dodd Stadium!Baseball is an international language, the people in Norwich and New Britian, believe it or not, talk the same talk.Sponsorships from the business community are near 90% sold out and they are attending games and sending people, the Defenders offer a tasty $2 Hummel Hot Dog with toppings and a $1 Pepsi every day,The Big Y program where kids get into the stadium to see future major leaguers for free when they wear a youth league jersey Sunday through Thursday, speaking of Sundays the kids run the bases after the game and get a free ice cream after the run,every Friday home game is Xtra Mart Fireworks show, there are great ushers, free parking,the fans that do come are super,can't be beat birthday parties, Ed,the P.A announcer, great guy,great voice, the peddle car race between innings, the team this year gets involved in the community ( Tyler Dyer Day), front office staff actually cares a ton and they take responsibility when the stadium is not full, but also are very proud of making the people that do come extremely happy, The Giants have great pitching prospects and a very, very fast new second baseman,the sky box suite level is remodeled and well recieved, it costs $92 each at Fenway Park for a reserved seat, a hot dog, a soda and a program and $10 each at Dodd Stadium for a dad to to take his young son to a pro game and get the same smile,the group sales guys will bend over backwards for any size group, Norwich is the Rose City... more positives to come stay tuned!

thehondohurricane said...

Where did i say that it was not a real possibility that the team might leave?

Joe said...

You were certainly bent over my "threatening" that the team might leave. First, I can't threaten anything of the sort since I don't have a say in what ownership or management does. It seemed there was a sense of denial that the Defenders' situation is as potentially grave as it is. If I misinterpreted your intent, that's my fault.

I have to side with some of what no negative vibes guy said, which is that there are a lot of good things going on at Dodd. It's a shame that more people don't realize/take advantage of it.

At the end of the day, if attendance doesn't get better, this team is gone.