What does it look like when the rich folks don’t show up?

It looks like this.

wbc-01-sections_top_sm

Club sections and suites were curiously empty for tonight’s WBC semifinal

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.

A view from my seat early in the game

A view from my seat early in the game

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.

7 Responses to What does it look like when the rich folks don’t show up?

  1. Mike2 says:

    The WBC novelty has worn off unless MLB is willing to force teams to put their best players on the field to represent their countries. I think it would garner more attn if it was played in the Summer time when most of the leagues seasons are in full swing. Baseball is long enough but you can always start the season early (WBC years only) and have a 1-2 week break during the reg season.What does it tell you when the best players on the team are R.A. Dickey and Ryan Braun? The other players are on the team are on wrong side of 30 or looking to secure a MLB call up.

    Except for the top 4 teams in the previous WBC, expand the qualifying to the rest of the field. (It would be funny or sad if the US failed to make it out of qualifying). Currently 12 teams get automatic bids into the next WBC if they make it the 2nd round.

    Also location, this is not soccer, the US is too spread out as a country to have round robin and knock out rounds played all over the country. Play the games in FL or AZ if they are to be played in the spring, that way the best players should be available to play if called upon.

    The WBC champion should host the next WBC or rotate the event. The WBC should be every 2 years instead of 4 to keep people interested in the event. If baseball wants the sport to grow and become am Olympic sport again what better way than letting the Olympic committee see that there is support for baseball outside of the US, Far-East Asia, and Latin America.

    Those are just my thoughts. The WBC is a great idea for baseball, it just needs MLB to convince it’s clubs to give up their best players. For some of the players love of country does not apply when they have already made 100′s of millions already off of baseball.

  2. Pudgie says:

    It would have helped if they would have scheduled a day game (at least for Sunday’s game). At 1 PM, they would have been competing against an NBA game and the Big Ten Championship Game.
    .
    Maybe future semis and finals should also be in warmer locales (Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego, Miami, Phoenix, or any indoor venue).

  3. Jack W says:

    “Fans disguised as empty seats”? Sounds like a typical day at the Coliseum :-)

  4. xootsuit says:

    I agree, a Sunday night game in SF in March, even with the good weather we’ve lucked into, doesn’t make much sense. People in the Caribbean were headed to bed. Maybe the Asian tv market is what they were aiming at? I’m interested in the relationship between the WBC and the IBAF (which, I believe, holds its own world-championship series every year). Look at the IBAF’s website. Seems clear the international leagues are zealously supporting the WBC. It looks like some sort of corporate merger in the works.

  5. Brian J says:

    @Mike2: I don’t think you realize how good Braun and Dickey are? And you really couldn’t be more off when you say that “the other players [that] are on the team are on [the] wrong side of 30 or looking to secure a MLB call up” because, uh, well just take a look at the roster.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/2013_World_Baseball_Classic_(Rosters)#United_States

    I don’t think Stanton and a bunch of others fall under either category you described. But yes, the US needs to take the WBC more seriously if MLB ever wants it to truly take off.

  6. freddy says:

    Hey ML –

    Thanks for the heads up, man. Based on your report and a couple of others, I became a first time StubHub user today. Their UI really sucks.

    It was weird watching ticket prices drop so fast. I pulled the plug a little early, could have got closer, but we ended up in Section 110 for $20. Next to a full band of rowdy Dominicans. Drums, whistles and a repertoire of rhythms. Wicked.

    Both teams were really good. The Dutch starting pitcher is bad-ass. Toronto may be a force in the AL East.

    Old man Tejada popped up a weak bunt but also came through in the clutch. The Dominican band had a really good rhythm & chant for him – way better than our old one at the Mausoleum. If we ever get another Tejada we should hire them.

    Since it’s phoney baloney park, it’s cool to leave at the top of the 8th, we crossed the bridge at the game ended, no more runs were scored. It was like watching a minor league game, at minor league prices, with goofy world music and euro-graphics.

    Might go again tomorrow. A nice warm-up. Big show in T minus two weeks.

  7. Mike2 says:

    @ BrianJ

    I still stand by my statement about the WBC . I’ll wait and see how Dickey handles AL pitching on a regular basis before I pass judgment on him. The only good thing about the knuckleballer is that if he is on he should be able to pitch until his mid 40′s. As for Braun, we all know he got off on a technicality and MLB is looking to slam him again for being associated with the latest PED buzz. I’ve had 15+ yrs experience with drug users, once a user always a user in my book.

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