City Desk

This Just In: D.C. Not a Baseball Town

A capacity crowd showed up on opening night to see the Washington Nationals win a thrilling game.

Ever since, locals have gone back to doing what they have done for decades–essentially ignoring Major League Baseball. Confirmation of this unsurprising phenomenon comes via the Washington Post's Sports page this morning. Turns out that the Nats had an enormous attendance dropoff from stadium opener to second home game. Check out this excerpt from the story:

Since 1992, when Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards began a renaissance period for new ballparks, 16 existing franchises have moved into new facilities. None has drawn a smaller crowd for its second home game than the Nationals.

Despite all the "excitement" over the new ballpark, the team is 20th out of 30 MLB teams in attendance this year. Sports biz analysts say winning would help–the team is now 4-9–and certainly that's true. Still, it's early in the season–too early for fans to bail as they have on the Nats and their 41,888-seat stadium.

I'm giving the owners seven to nine years to come to grips with the futility of a D.C.-based MLB franchise. Then another few years to grapple with the league commissioner and others about moving or selling out. By 2020, we'll be back to where we were in 1972.

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  • WFY

    It's not a hockey town either.

    It seems odd that so many people are assuming (rooting for?) failure based on a sample size of a week.

  • Matt

    Expensive tickets, food and beer for a losing team? No thanks. DC was never a baseball town and never will be a baseball town.

    The only team that DC natives love are the Skins. And if the history of winning didn't exist from the 80's, I don't think people would even love the Skins.

    The Caps, Wizards, Skins and Orioles all are garbage teams that have a long history of being losers. Now we can add a big waste of money to that equation with the Nationals.

  • Big Mike

    I think that the whole situation with the National isn't being handled that well, but that doesn't mean DC isn't a baseball town. There was a lot of enthusiasm for bringing the Nats here, but I think the ownership overestimated what people were willing to pay and endure to see baseball. Attendance is down for baseball pretty much everywhere, but it certainly doesn't help that the new stadium's pricing tends to alienate the casual fan. I think DC might in fact be a good town for baseball. The problem is that we don't have a stadium and franchise that's designed to cater to baseball fans.

  • JT

    Let's not forget DC United, I suspect a new reasonably sized stadium (in DC, VA, MD, wherever) would do quite well in the first game, second game and beyond. Like the Skins, they have some very loyal and dedicated fans (it could be argued that their initial success had a lot to do with that). Though a week of games hardly constitutes the success or failure of the Nats new park, it seems like it wouldn't take a rocket surgeon to predict sub-40k attendance on average. What was the rationale for such a huge park? Seems ambitious, no?

  • Mike Licht

    The weather has been cold, and DC baseball fans are wimps. Maybe the Nats could play in the Newseum -- I hear there's lot of empty space there. Oh wait; those tickets are over-priced, too.

  • Larry

    Two big mistakes were made, one by MLB and one by the politicians in DC.

    (1) Despite two previous franchaise failures, and a thriving baseball team only 30 miles away in Baltimore, MLB wrongly believed that a team would also thrive in the DC area. This was Selig's desire, and he should be strung up for encouraging the other owners to go along with such an incredibly bad decision.

    (2) The political powers that be in DC refused to swallow their pride and demanded a new stadium be built within the city. And then to compound there mistake, they chose one of the most horrid sections of DC for the location. This is a prime example of building a palace in the middle of a slum. A majority of people will not go there. A stadium built in No. VA would have at least given the team a better chance to survive.