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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Midwest League Playoffs/ Attendance

I spent this past weekend in Davenport, Iowa to watch the Quad Cities River Bandits (Cardinals, single A) play in the second round the the Midwest League Playoffs against the Kane County Cougars (Royals, single A). This past Saturday, September 10th was the first of the three game series for the second round of playoffs. The Bandits had home field advantage after clinching a playoff spot in the frist half of the season, so they started the series in Geneva, Illinois at Elfstrom Stadium where the Cougars call home. It was a beautiful day with a late afternoon start of 4:00pm CST. And an entire 785 tickets were sold.

The Cougars draw particularily well of the Midwest League teams, sometimes selling out with over 7,500 fans in attendance. For the past 8 years they have been affiliated with the Oakland Athletics, but prior to this season they swapped farm teams with the Royals sending the A's out to Burlington, Iowa. The loyalty of fans did not drastically change throughout the regular season, still with big enthusiastic crowds but now sporting more blue than dark green. This past Saturday in Geneva was 74 degrees and partly cloudy. The starting pitcher, Trevor Rosenthal threw a 4 hit complete game shut out to put the bandits up 1-0 in the 3 game series. Of the 785 tickets old, 500 people may have stuck around to see the 7-0 victory for the Bandits.

On Sunday, the Bandits resumed play at their home field, Modern Woodman Park where they typically draw 4,000 -5,000 for a weekend game. Intensified by the current playoff race and going for their second sweep in the postseason this year, you'd figure again to see a decent crowd. Wrong again. 582 tickets were sold and from the looks of it maybe 200 actually showed up. Both were perfect days weather wise.

Sunday in Davenport, Iowa was 78 degrees and sunny with a few overcast clouds. Sitting in the stands on Sunday I kept thinking, "what perfect baseball weather." It was the enough-to-get-a-light-tan-without-sweating-perfusely kind of weather. To top all of this off, the bandits came back from a 5-0 deficit to win in walk off fashion in the bottom of the 9th on a 3 run homer by Nick Longmire to sweep the Cougars and advance to the Midwest League Championship series.

The team celebrating their walkoff in the bottom of the 9th (notice the mostly empty stands)

For a majority of the current River Bandits, this could be their second Championship ring in as many seasons. Last season in Johnson City, the low A affiliate of the Cardinals, they took home the Championship and many of those same players advanced to full A this season and are on the same track. That being said, I think Cardinal fans should be especially proud of the crop of talent they have in their minor leagues.

This leaves us with the question, Why are these games not high in attendance? They are on weekends with great weather at their respected home fields. Two weeks ago in the regular season they were sellouts. After asking around at the stadiums to various employees, the overall concensus was that the playoffs never sell out, nor do they ever come close. Why is there not more advertising? Is there a lack of care or could it be that the NFL week 1 was in progress? I am not quite sure, but one thing I know is that all these fans that came out for the season needs to get to their ballparks! This is the most exciting time for the players and fans. Just because the give aways are not bobbleheads does not warrant an empty stadium. This does bring me back to a reoccuring theme on my blog that baseball is advertising to the mass audiences when they should be focusing on the fanatics. Rightly so, it is short notice that the public recieves on when the games will be played but I would like to see other suggestions on how to expand the exposure of the Minor League playoffs. I feel as if this is a goldmine for fans just being completely over looked. We have high round talents playing for Championships for crying out loud! Please email me at with any additional info or suggestions.

If you are interested, the Quad Cities River Bandits will be playing the Championship series starting Wednesday at the Lansing Lugnuts. They will play games 1 and 2 of the 5 game series at Lansing, and will then come home to Davenport for games 3, 4 (if necessary) and 5 (if necessary) on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday respectibly. I will be there for all three games in the Quad Cities, as well. This is for the Midwest League Championship so come out and support your baby birds! If you have to drive super far, I may just buy your ticket for you... email me!
The Baseball Life,


Anonymous said...

This is not a new problem. You have 2 days to advertise for playoffs sometimes as opposed to 6-7 months for regular season. It's this way Midwest-wide. Plus on weekends in fall, football takes the forefront and in non-urban communities, high school football dominates on Friday night. There's not much you can do about it. All you basically have is walk-up attendance, since group sales pretty much have no shot.

Stephanie "S" Paluch said...

I understand that, like i mentioned all the employees stated that this has been a regular occurance. But the fans knew after the first half of the season that they clinched a playoff spot. I just feel there needs to be more advertising so that the fans are more aware. There are plenty of die-hards who would travel.

Stephanie "S" Paluch said...

Awesome emails so far everyone.. I especially love the idea of Fireworks and post season packages to have people planning for it in advance despite the short notice they recieve. Someone else even emailed and said that once they clinched in the first half why not do promotions with post season tickets as give away throughout the season so that way fans are looking forward to it more. Using local bars and restaurant is good too. Keep them coming!