I was really curious to see whether or not attendance would see a boost simply due to Brett Lawrie’s debut in Toronto, and I’ve come to the conclusion that such was the case. Despite what most would see as an underwhelming number, the 20,521 fans who passed through the turngates on Tuesday were well above the habitual mark set for Tuesday evening games.
To prove my case, here’s a run down of the last 5 Tuesday evening games and their resulting attendances:
- vs Baltimore: 17,477
- vs Seattle: 15,957
- vs Pittsburgh: 17,085
- vs Baltimore: 15,592
- vs Cleveland: 14,556
- Average of all 5 games: 16,133
That makes last night’s attendance of 20,521 stand out quite a bit with a 4,387 difference based on the average of the previous 5 Tuesday evening games. And, if you think that the opponents had something to do with it, you’re barking up the wrong tree because the attendance was only 17,820 when the Jays met the Red Sox on a Tuesday evening (May 10th)!
The question now is whether or not that increase in attendance will sustain for a certain period of time, or whether it was a 1 time event. If we assume that the Jays made an average of say $50 per fan who decided to attend simply due to Lawrie’s debut, and yes I did pull that number out of my hat since we could never know exactly how much each of those fans spent on tickets and concessions, they will have brought in approximately $219,350 extra for that 1 game. If we assume that this trend will continue for 1 week, Lawrie will have brought in about $1.5 million extra. You get the picture. The Jays are set to make quite a bit of money from his arrival, and that’s not even counting the likely increase in TV ratings for Jays games.
This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about when I said that he could be THE most important call up in Jays history. I haven’t gone back in time to see the debut of Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, or Carlos Delgado to name a few, but I’m fairly certain that their arrivals didn’t warrant an attendance boost as we just witnessed with Brett Lawrie. If the presence of a rookie player can increase the club’s revenues by over $200,000 per game, you know they’re getting more than their money’s worth when his salary is at league minimum. A few years at this level before reaching arbitration for the first time, and the Jays will be able to reap the financial benefits of having Lawrie on board and will hopefully reinvest that income into improving the team as a whole. As much as I loved watching Shaun Marcum pitch for the Jays, he was never going to draw fans in as much as Lawrie can, which is why Lawrie is quite simply a game-changer in Toronto.
I’ll keep tabs on attendance numbers from here on out to get a fair sense of how sustainable this change is. I’m not sure it will continue into September as fans will have their attention spread between Football, Baseball, and Hockey training camps, but even if August is the only impacted month in terms of attendance levels, the Jays will still be much better off for it and will have a good idea of what to expect in the future as the team hopefully improves.
One major point of note as we get set to watch Henderson Alvarez take to the mound: the average attendance in Toronto for the Jays has improved from a low of 19,704 to a much better 22,981 over the last few months (a difference of +3,277 per game). During the same period in 2010, the average attendance had gone from 16,369 to 19,292 (a difference of +2,923 per game). What does that indicate aside from the fact that attendance has gone up 202,886 year-to-year at the same point? Well, it tells us the obvious - that more fans are coming to games-, and indicates that the momentum has grown at a slightly faster pace this season than it did in 2010. It could also indicate that fans seem to be buying into Alex Anthopoulos and his plan to turn the Jays into a perennial contender.
I’m really hoping the attendance boost continues and that the wins pile in, because if both of these happen, the budget could be more flexible than ever for the Jays in 2012.
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