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Calling All Cincinnati Fans: Do You Exist?

Cincinnati is a proud baseball town. The Reds are one of the more storied franchises in the game -- the Big Red Machine of the 70s and all -- and fans still fight over Opening Day tickets, with Great American Ballpark hosting one of the nation's most traditional April baseball fests.

Well, that goodwill and loyalty no longer extends deep into August. According to the Associated Press, the attendances for yesterday's day-night doubleheader between the Reds and Pirates in Cincinnati were the smallest in Great American Ballpark history. The nightcap hosted only 9,087 fans, a paltry sum for a park which can comfortably seat 42,000, particularly when you consider how many of those tickets were part of a season ticket package.

If you think that's bad, brace yourself for the daytime attendance: below 2,000.

That's right, there were nearly 1,200 more fans at the last Potomac Nationals minor league home game than the number of fans who watched the Reds and Pirates yesterday afternoon. And here's the punchline: That P-Nats game was part of a doubleheader, too.

How does this happen? In some sense, the nighttime attendance is much more startling. Fewer than 10,000 fans at a major league game (outside of a Marlins game, of course) is a shock. For 9,000 fans to show up at a Reds game, for a team that really has some decent talent, is an outright stunner. Clearly, Cincinnati's opponent -- the Pirates -- had something to do with the lackluster ticket sales. Still, 9,000 fans? Fewer than 2,000 fans for a day game? That's a fraction of the fans that will watch Cincinnati high school football powers Colerain and St. Xavier play this weekend, for sure.

If this is happening in Cincinnati, with an established fan base and a fairly innovative ticket sales force that markets day games as part of a business lunch break (complete with coke and a hot dog), what can a team like Arizona hope to pull in for a day game when the Pirates come to town? Now imagine if the Royals could host the Reds in a day-night doubleheader at this point of the season. We shudder to think what the attendance counts would look like.

That being said, there are minor benefits of having empty stands. Just check out these quotes from Reds and Pirates who took in yesterday's library atmosphere:

"I felt like I was back in the Florida State League," said Reds rookie Drew Stubbs. "I could hear (announcer) Jeff Brantley's voice from out on the concourse and the cars on the highway outside."

"You could hear everything," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I saw one guy who was missing a finger catch a foul ball, and I could hear him say, 'That hurt like hell,' but he caught it. That's one of those days where everyone could get a foul ball and a T-shirt."

"I was a little antsy, trying to block that crowd out," Pirates rookie starter Daniel McCutcheon said, of his first major league start. "That's a joke there."

By Cameron Smith  |  September 1, 2009; 2:35 PM ET
Categories:  Pirates , Reds  | Tags: Reds, attendance, fans  
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Next: Moment of Levity: The Big Picture


I thought there weren't supposed to be day-night doubleheaders unless the advance sales were such the home team wouldn't ba able to honor all rain checks before the end of the season, and the MLBPA had to sign off. I wonder if a 5:35 twi-night doubleheader wouldn't have drawn moew than the 11,000 or so the two games cobines drew.

Posted by: dlk117561 | September 2, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

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