On April 12, 2018, Forbes ran a story entitled “Only 974 Fans Show Up For A Baseball Game In Chicago. It Was Just As Bad Elsewhere.” Then a Washington DC radio station (WTOP) ran a story on April 17th entitled “The attendance number that MLB should worry about” documenting that attendance is down across the league about 10 percent so far this season.
Well, it is unseasonably cold this year (38 degrees at 8am in Washington DC today) making me think that we are living through the Dennis Quaid flick “The Day After Tomorrow.”
Or is it that the US is seeing the end of a 10-year economic cycle that was due to run out, as indicated by the US Treasury 10Y-2Y slope crashing down towards 0 bps?
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Or could it be the cost of tickets is getting ridiculous? My usual seat at Washington Nationals stadium behind the home dugout is now $266 a ticket for an upcoming game against the Yankees. Taking my two sons to a Nats game and getting a beer and Ben’s Chili dog is now running around $1,000. (Former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke often sits in the same section that I do, so I will ask him to foot my bill at the next game.)
Or could it be that people are getting sick of listening to millionaire players like the Cub’s Anthony Rizzo whining that he doesn’t like playing in the cold and that the season is too long. Then there is the Giancarlo Stanton, last year’s MVP, who signed with the Yankees for $325 million, but is batting only .197 so far this season.
The decline in attendance varies by team with the Boston Red Sox off to a red-hot start (14-2). Then again, the San Francisco Giants are off to a terrible start (6-10) but are showing only a small decline in attendance.
It is likely a combination of slowing economy (as signified by the declining yield curve slope), cold weather, expensive seats and whining millionaire ballplayers.
We shall see what happens when it warms up by July. IFF it warms up by July!
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