Eventually, the shine comes off newest houses, which is something the Mets are learning about Citi Field, which has never been the home the franchise had hoped.
Citi Field hasn’t given the Mets a home-field advantage both on the field and in the stands, with attendance gradually declining since it opened in 2009 at 38,941 per game.
Last season, the Mets drew 26,528, as they learned what the Blue Jays, White Sox and Orioles – teams that made up the first wave of the new stadium construction – found out. They’ll come if you build it, but they won’t come again if you don’t win.
They also learned that in Texas, Houston and Cleveland.
Fans are willing to pay for the novelty of a new stadium, but the real attraction is the product on the field, and in that regard the Mets have been a disappointment.
I started thinking of this after reading a report from sports marketing publisher Team Marketing Report, which noted the Fan Cost Index increased 2.3 percent last year to $212.46, with Citi Field the seventh most expensive at $229.68.
The index measures the cost of this odd shopping list: four average-priced tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four (regular-sized) hot dogs, parking for one car, two programs and the two least expensive hats.
Baseball used to call itself “a bargain in comparison to other professional sports,’’ and it used to be true. Nothing is inexpensive anymore, including going to the movies.
Of course, a stadium in New York figures to be expensive (the Yankees are second at $337.20 and Fenway Park is an astronomical $350.78), and you can knock that price down by going on bargain nights, skipping the programs and hats.
However, the Mets don’t make it easy for the fan. For example, it would be nice if the Mets allowed you to bring your own food into the ballpark, but I don’t know of any team that allows it.
I understand the economics of it – the same principles explain player contracts – but the costs of the going to a baseball game is something the keepers of the sport should be more aware of in developing its future fan base.
Attendance has been up in recent years, but much of this can be attributed to new stadium construction, built for the large part with taxpayer funding.
However, the gravy train can’t last forever and the Mets must be aware of grooming the next generation of fans – and ticket buyers.