Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lack of Superstar Hampers Attendance

Tonight's game was the debut of "Throwback Thursday" wherein fans get peanuts and a scorecard upon entry. Too bad the game wasn't all that great -- despite a spirited late inning rally.

Throwback Thursday, BART $2 Wednesdays and Free Parking Tuesday's are all excellent ongoing promotions that show the team does want to get folks to the ballpark.

The issue is that casual attendance is an awfully hard sell in some ways. The team is largely uneven on the field and lacks a true superstar. Two of the more recognizable and genuinely likable players -- Andrew Bailey and Gio Gonzalez were traded off this past off season.

The issue with attendance can't be cost. The A's are easily the most affordable professional sports option in the Bay Area. The real rub is that the team has no one to market and when they do, they trade them off. (At present, for a non-hard core fan to name even three A's players is no easy task.) Jemile Weeks is the flavor du jour, but he is hitting below the Mendoza line after a sensational partial season last year. Surely Weeks will bounce back, but how long before he goes too?

Besides Weeks is Cespedes the face? Is Brandon McCarthy (free agent eligible after the season)? Historically, just when you think it is safe to buy a shirsey (shirt-jersey), your favorite player -- even those signed by the team to a long-term contracts-- get traded. One needs to only think of Trevor Cahill, Dan Haren and Nick Swisher. Even with how exciting Cespedes is, you have to really think hard about spending money on a jersey or shirsey. One fan I spotted got the message and sports "PTBNL 00" for player to be named later.

At least when you buy a Catfish Hunter or Reggie Jackson jersey you know the team can't trade them -- again anyway. The A's need a player for fans to love without worrying that they will be gone with the next star-for-prospects cycle.

The stadium is not ideal,  nor is the chilly nighttime air. However, the A's have done a good job of keeping tickets affordable and creating fairly good recurring promotions. Unfortunately, this part of the organization has had a Sisyphus-esque task with the revolving door of fan favorites.

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