In the movie ‘Field of Dreams,’ one of the more famous misquotes involves the line of “If you build it, they will come.” While the actual quote is somewhat different, with the word ‘he’ in place of ‘they,’ the premise holds true for the Kansas City Royals. In their case, if the Royals give their fans a reason to head out to Kauffman Stadium, they will come.
For much of the past twenty years, when the Royals went from being one of the better franchises in baseball to a perennial doormat, the attendance figures have not been there. The Royals routinely drew under 20,000 fans per game, aside from the surprising 2003 season when the Royals were in contention into September. They drew over 20,000 again in 2004, as there was hope that the Royals would build off that success, but it turned out to be nothing more than an aberration, as the team fell back to mediocrity.
Zack Greinke drew the fans back to Kauffman Stadium during his run at the Cy Young award in 2009, as each start became a must watch even, but reasons to come out to the park were few and far between. That is, until recently. Beginning in the 2011 season, when the Royals top prospects such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas began reaching the majors, the Royals started drawing over 20,000 fans per game. As the team has gotten better, that average has increased slightly per season, up to the 22,220 fans that the Royals have averaged this year.
One of the biggest reasons given as to why David Glass refused to spend on the team’s payroll was that the fans just were not coming out to the park. While the Royals average attendance only ranks eleventh of the fifteen teams in the American League, this season also marks the first time that the Royals have averaged over 20,000 people per game since the strike in 1994. It is likely not a coincidence that the increased payroll has resulted in a better team, bringing more fans to the park.
The interest in the Royals is not just manifesting at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals are drawing far more viewers from home as well. Last season, television ratings increased by 70% from 2012, the largest increase of any team in major league baseball last year. 2013 also marked the highest ever average rating over a season for the Royals. Should the Royals remain in the thick of contention once again this season, those ratings may well see another spike for 2014.
The interest in the Royals is there. It had just lain dormant over the two decades of mediocrity, waiting for the Royals to give their fanbase a reason to return. Now, every Royals game is starting to become must watch television once again, much like it was back with the team was in it’s heyday.
It was thought that if the Royals built a competitive team, the fans would come. Now, much like in the movie, they truly are coming back to the ballpark.
Tags: Kansas City Royals