After years of full crowds, and tremendous amounts of fan support, the Rogers Centre has been pretty empty to begin 2019.
It started with the home opener not selling out this past Thursday, which is a far cry from when the Blue Jays home opener “Sold out in minutes” back in 2015. Of course, things were different back then. The Blue Jays had star power and a real chance at competing for an AL East title.
This year: Not so much.
Currently, Blue Jays management seem hell-bent on taking this roster down to the studs, and no amount of fan revolt will change that fact. They have introduced half-baked attempts at drawing in fans in 2019 with gimmicks that range from “Dollar Dog Night” to 500,000 dollar 50/50 draws. None of which seems to have stopped the turnstile bleeding.
Last season the Blue Jays ranked 14th overall for attendance in MLB, but ticket sales still dropped by 26% compared to 2017, and that decline seems to have carried over to 2019. Through the first week of this season, the Blue Jays are averaging 30.66% fewer fans compared to the same week last season.
Even the first attempt at “Dollar Dog night” saw a loss of 5341 fans when compared to the Tuesday game of the opening week last season. It seems to me that fans are less interested in wieners, and are holding out for a group of winners. The mlb.com opening week attendance numbers for Rogers Centre in 2019 compared to last seasons are downright scary:
Thursday, March 29 (2018): 48,115 home opener
Thursday, March 28 (2019): 45,048 home opener
Friday, March 30 (2018): 33,716
Friday, March 29 (2019): 18,054
Saturday, March 31 (2018): 37,692
Saturday, March 30(2019): 25,429
Sunday, April 1 (2018): 29,091
Sunday, March 31 (2019): 16,098
Mon April 2 (2018): 16,629
Mon April 1( 2019): 10,460
Tuesday, April 3 (2018): 17,451
Tuesday, April 2 (2019): 12,110
Wednesday, April 4 (2018): 17,268
Wednesday, April 3 (2019): 11,436
In total the Blue Jays have sold 61,327 fewer tickets in their first week of the season than they did in 2018. I’m not saying that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins were not prepared for this scenario, but if they made projections for loss, I would doubt that they projected this magnitude of fan revolt.
They could be hoping that when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. arrives it will help save ticket sales, but for the Blue Jays to not end the season near the absolute bottom of MLB attendance in 2019, management will have to do more than that.
It may be time for the front office to start making serious changes to how they plan to attract fans in 2019. Personally, I’d like to see the $5 “Dugout deals” spread across ALL concession stands throughout Rogers Centre, not just at a few selected ones. Ticket package options that have been slashed down in recent years should also make a comeback.
They have got to do something, because in what should be an organization-wide wake-up call, this past Monday the perennial bottom feeder attendance champions the Tampa Bay Rays had 400 more fans show up to Tropicana field than the Blue Jays did to Rogers Centre, which spurred the Blue Jays lowest attendance mark since April 2010 at 10,460.
But it can only get better from here, right?