Saturday, August 7, 2010

GBL attendance drops in spite of RAP faithful

I did a quick comparison of attendance figures for the GBL teams over the last couple of years and the numbers are very interesting. Although the Seals have seen a 14.5% increase in attendance this year, the eight teams that have played in the last two seasons have still seen a drop of over 4%. It's not a catastrophic figure, but there are obviously some problem areas in the league.

Here are the GBL attendance numbers:

2010 Average
2009 Average
% Change
Tucson Toros
Victoria Seals
Chico Outlaws
Edmonton Capitals
Tijuana Cimarrones
Calgary Vipers
Maui Na Koa Ikaika
Orange County Flyers
Yuma Scorpions
St. George Roadrunners

The figures for Victoria are quite startling considering how poor the weather was in May and June. The Seals have done a much better job of getting youth baseball players out to the ballpark this year and they have also appear to be doing quite well with the corporate BBQ's. Add in a better ball club and a maturing fan base and the result is a lot more fannies in the seats at Royal Athletic Park.

Edmonton and Calgary have seen attendance increases of close to 13%, so the Canadian franchises are in great shape right now. Hopefully a potential owner in Kamloops will step forward in the off-season and the GBL can finally feature a Canadian division.

Chico has seen an 11.5% increase in fans, much of which can probably be chalked up to the Yoshida factor. However, the Orange County and St. George franchise have some serious issues to deal with and they have taken big attendance hits. The St. George situation is well documented, but it's unclear if Orange County is a viable franchise for 2011 and they may be suffering from sports overload in Southern California. Fullerton is less than 10 miles from Anaheim Stadium and not quite 30 miles from Dodger Stadium. In addition, there are a variety of affiliated minor-league teams in the area. Last week Orange County threw open the gates and didn't charge admission to see the Flyers take on the Seals in a bid to attract new fans. Their recent signing of ex-major leaguer Mark Prior sure can't hurt.

However, the team with the biggest drop-off in attendance is also the team that leads the Golden Baseball League: the Tucson Toros. Although they are still averaging 2,753 fans per game, that's a huge drop of nearly 25% over last year's numbers. That's very troubling considering the Toros only joined the league in 2009 and a big reduction in year two could be a sign that the fan's aren't impressed. Tucson has long been a AAA town and there are rumours that the Portland Beavers could make the move to Tucson in 2011. In any event, we are surely in for some big changes in the GBL during the off-season.

Seal Blubber Bits

  • Wilver Perez's drive for the GBL stolen-base record has stalled at 50. Wilver hasn't stolen a base in the last four games and he's hitting .214 in that span. Still, he's only one shy of tying Jonny Kaplan's record of 51 steals in a season, so he's still sure to break the record on this home stand.
  • In an interview a few weeks ago, GBL commissioner Kevin Outcalt stated that the salary cap for each team in the GBL is $90,000 USD. That part wasn't really news, but he went on to say that teams could exceed the cap and pay a salary tax, similar to what is done in Major League Baseball.
  • If you haven't been out to RAP yet this week, you have to see Cristobal Santana of the Toros play first base -- and your last chance is on Sunday afternoon. He's hands-down the best defensive first baseman in the league and he has been putting on a clinic around the bag at first. Given his flexibility and ability to stretch to reach baseballs thrown in his general direction, his nickname should be Rubber Man. And by the way, he's hitting .376 (3rd best in the league).