The Rochester Red Wings have done everything that the team was told was needed to improve attendence at Batavia Muckdogs games, General Manager Dave Wellenzohn tells David Hibbard of the Daily News, and the team is drawing no better this year than last.
Fireworks don't help. A better field doesn't help. More marketing hasn't helped. Even a winning record and exciting pennant race aren't putting more people in more seats.
In May, Wellenzohn predicted that 60,000 people would pay to see the Muckdogs this year. At the current rate, only about 45,000 people will come through the gates.
"They've kept their word. They've invested a lot of money into the franchise," Wellenzohn said. "Rochester's (Red Wings) kept their promise 100 percent, even more. They're spending more money than I thought they would -- an maybe even should. Because they're thinking, 'Well, maybe if we do this, this will trigger more attendance.' It hasn't."
Wellenzohn says the team is likely to stay in Batavia next season, but if attendance doesn't improve, he isn't sure how long the Red Wings will keep investing in the team.
So here's the thing: Batavia is damn fortunate to have a minor league baseball team. In fact, having lived in major league cities, I'm not sure Batavians realize how fortunate they are to have a minor league baseball team. It's a hell of a lot of fun to watch these developing players in a small venue with your friends and neighbors.
So what will it take to get Batavians to support their home town team?
We've been trying to do our part -- The Batavian is a team sponsor and we carry as much team coverage as we can -- because we believe sports teams serve a civic purpose of promoting community and local pride.
In an era of high gas prices and higher and higher costs of everything, isn't a $5 general admission ticket quite a bargain for such great entertainment?
So what else can we do, what can we all to do, get more people at the games?
And, FWIW, kudos to Hibbard for a fine article.