What does it look like when the rich folks don’t show up?
It looks like this.
For Sunday’s World Baseball Classic semifinal matchup between Japan and Puerto Rico, most of the suites at AT&T Park went unused, while both the field level and mezzanine clubs were full of fans disguised as empty seats. Announced attendance for the game was 33,683, at the low end of the Giants’ projections and well below the 36,000 I figured would show up. I went over some of the reasons why attendance could lag for the WBC in the last post, but I definitely didn’t expect to see no lights on in so many of the suites.
Considering that Japan was in the matchup and was expected to make it all the way to the final, I figured that there’d be more Japanese corporate presence in the park. That was evidently not the case, though Japanese fans seemed to outnumber Puerto Rico fans by a healthy margin. Monday’s game is expected to have lower attendance than Sunday, so a similar scene in the high-roller seats should play out.
Obviously, I’m oversimplifying things a little by only pointing to club seats and suites. Some well-to-do fans and perhaps some companies bought strips of regular seats. But it was clear from the start that all of facilities that the Giants and other MLB teams use to make their money weren’t in use tonight, including the aforementioned premium accommodations and the Virgin America Loft down the right field line. Some suites may have been used in Miami and Phoenix, but frankly I wasn’t paying that much attention since I hadn’t attended games in either location.
Some questions I have going forward:
- Does this matter at all to the WBC and MLB?
- Did the WBC overprice premium facilities along the lines of the advance ticket strips?
- Are they even selling suites?
- Who conceived the failed ticket pricing scheme?
- What adjustments does the WBC need to make?
I took away two other observations from the game. First, even though the crowd was loud and boisterous, it may have also been the most polite, friendly baseball crowd of that size I’ve ever been in. The two nations were in it to win it, yet there was no visible animosity. Maybe that will change if PR meets the Dominican Republic in the final. It was a refreshing departure from some of the bitter Giants-Dodgers and A’s-Yankees crowds experienced over the years. Second, staffing for the game was much smaller than for a typical Giants game, suites notwithstanding. Even as the crowd was 8,000 smaller than for a sold out Giants game, it looked like up to a third of the concession stands were closed, especially on the View Level. I imagine that this had to do with the projected crowd. Maybe it also had to do with possible budgetary constraints set by the WBC for the host Giants. Either way, it was not something I was used to, and it looked similar to the upper deck(s) at the Coliseum. One of my friends in the upper deck left to get a craft beer in the 5th inning and had to go down to main concourse to find one, missing two innings in the process.
Did you watch the game on TV or in person? What did you take away from the game?
I’ll be back Monday night for the Netherlands-Dominican Republic matchup. Bleacher tickets can be had for as little as $5.