May 27, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; The Kansas City Royals present several on field activities in support of Armed Services Day before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals: The Quest For 2 Million Fans


In lore there are references to 2 million pilgrims walking through the turnstiles at Kauffman Stadium year in and year out.  We have not seen evidence of it since 1991, and it has been understandable given the atrocious teams that have called Kauffman home during that period of time.  This year the old attendance plateau of old may be in play again.  I mostly care because a quarter of million more fans in the seats equates to a nice revenue boost, and will hopefully help the team maintain the payroll at a respectable level, but I also believe that KC has been down for too long on both sides of the sports complex and wants a winner very badly.  Go look at how big of a deal Sporting KC has become if you don’t believe me.

The last three years have seen rather consistent attendance numbers at 1.724, 1.740, and 1.751 million.  You could call that growth, but of an extremely modest variety.  The expectations this year were much higher going into the season, and it may be contributing to better attendance already.  Through 9 home games in 2013 the Royals were averaging 20,773 per game, and so far through the same number of 2014 games the average is slightly higher at 21,569 filled seats each night.  Sweeping Houston seemed to increase walk up numbers at least if the numbers quoted on the broadcast were correct.

What would it take for 2 million?  After the abysmal month of May last summer there was a drop in interest as Royals fans are conditioned for an early end to the season.  Toward the end of the season the Royals clawed back to a point where if squinted and turned your head sideways it looked like the playoffs could happen.  There were just too many teams in between them and the wild card.  To average the necessary 24,691 fans per game to get to the mark, the most important thing is to stay in the hunt for the entirety of the season.  We need weekends like the last one of the season in KC last year where the average attendance was 28,770 and higher than any other non-Cardinal series of 2013 (Cards came for two days with avg. 31,290).

I think the other key to filling seats is going to be Yordano Ventura.  If he becomes a spectacle, a la 2009 Zack Greinke, it will help boost attendance a chunk of the time without having to give away t-shirts or shoot off fireworks.  Greinke was something to behold that year and you had games like July 3rd against the White Sox with 39 thousand fans despite the 33-46 record.  Ventura could be a similar drawing point this summer if he continues to be effective.

This team has come slowly out of the gate and still managed to stay at the .500 level, so assuming that the offense warms up like it did last summer, I am optimistic they will hang around and be interesting all the way through September..  Due to that I will be tracking how the attendance behaves each home stand and trying to benchmark it to last year for comparison’s sake.




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  • Ed Connealy

    Nice post. You are right about Yordando being a potential lotto for attendance. I really think marketable stars are key. Kids want to see heroes and ask their Dad’s to take them out. Fringe fans get more excited when there is a sparkling media face for the team. Another potential problem is the way the Royals communicate to the fans. Like it or not, that is done through the media. Moore is just bad at it. He says the wrong this all the time, and often contradicts himself and his past promises. That said, yet he remains relatively likable. Quite often, Ned Yost could not be more condescending or abrasive. Hard to say how much of a negative impact this has, but it has zero positive impact. You can’t tell me Rob Heineman’s brand has not helped Sporting KC’s numbers. It matters.

    • Brian Henry

      Sporting is marketed beautifully, and I would give a lot to have those guys in charge of the Royals.

      • Dave Hill

        Glass spend money on marketing? HAHAHAHA!!!!

        That being said, I would also love to have those people marketing this team.

      • unclejesse40

        This team would look and operate totally different if the sporting guys owned this team. I really hope in the next 5-10 years Glass sells the team to those guys.

  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    The quality of lineup is something that draws fans in as well. More fans are inclined to attend the game when Shields is pitching then of Chen is pitching. If fans see that the Royals are going to continuously put an overall solid team out there, fans will come. If you build a solid team, they will come.

    That being said. Based off of what I’ve heard while attending games and seen peoples reactions too, the Royals need to trade Butler, trade Davis, extend a cheap contract to Hoch, swap Chen and Duffy in the rotation, and find a way to extend Shields. Now I understand that with the market the Royals are that this is next to impossible, but making moves brings quality of mind and fans. I love Chen, but he’s struggled 3 of his 4 starts. When he pitches at home, he won’t draw in a quality crowd. Duffy would draw a better crowd. Signing Shields long term would insure at least 1 pitcher to being in large quantity of people. Davis and Butler don’t play much, but they could be quality trade bait and bring in something of quality. They free up cash, space, and ability to make moves. Hoch was the best long reliever last year and his TJ injury shouldn’t ruin that for next year.

    Quality lineup and rotations are essential to drawing in crowds. If we make big moves and show we are serious, then fans respond. We ignore the bad spots, fans don’t bother buying a $20 ticket and $11 parking.

    • Brian Henry

      Duffy almost certainly will replace Chen the way it is going, and I agree would be more interesting to fans.

  • moretrouble

    There was a great article in yesterday’s (4/24) N Y. Times measuring the fanbase for every team in baseball. The most interesting aspect of the piece was a map that showed various team’s popularity. KC’s influence, of course, is quite a bit smaller than the Cardinals. The map showed areas where a team can grow in influence and for KC, that is Iowa and Nebraska. KC has not done a particularly good job building their radio and TV market

    There is potential for KC to grow it’s attendance, but I think growth has as much to do with marketing strategy as it does the quality of the team. KC has always relied on free publicity from the Star, supported by a campaign of outdoor ads and a small electronic ad footprint. Kansas City is fairly well penetrated; what they need to do better is expand their aggregate audience by promoting the team outside the KC area.

    • unclejesse40

      Another reason why I thought it was a mistake to move the AA team out of Wichita. I guess NW Arkansas is close enough to matter but what about moving one of the lower level teams back closer to the major league team so that fans can get a chance to see the young talent. If Wilmington was in Wichita right now I would have already been to a game, but the way it is now I will probably never get a chance to watch that team.

      • moretrouble

        Jesse, I couldn’t agree more with you. I don’t believe Council Bluffs has a minor league team. Sioux Falls has an independent team, like the T-Bones. Why not a Royals affiliate? I’ll never see a Wilmington game this year and that’s an interesting club. In some areas, like the location of minor league affiliates, marketing strategy, the radio/tv contracts, etc., the Royals’ need quite a bit of improvement.

        • unclejesse40

          I wouldn’t mind having Omaha AAA, Northwest Arkansas AA, Wichita A+, Springfield IL A-. This would put all of the minor leagues within driving distance of the K. Most of these cities are larger and would give the Royals the ability to get into newer and bigger markets. Cedar Rapids would be nice but I think Minnesota has a minor league team there.