Though the Washington Nationals only finished ninth in regular season attendance, the beauty of 2012 was that fans came out to see them play. After eight years of trying to build a solid fan base the organization may have finally done so. The question is will those who came out this year return in 2013?
The Nationals had their most successful season since coming to Washington in 2005. The team won 98 games and its first NL East championship. Washington lost their NL Divisional Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games.
The Nationals success led to record attendance numbers. A total of 2,370,794 fans paid to see Washington play. This is an average of a little over 29,000 fans per game. In three playoff games the Nationals set single game attendance records. The biggest crowd was 45,966 for the decisive game five.
Despite the Nationals success, Washington is not yet a baseball town. ‘Nattitude’ has not quite swept the D.C. region. There are still many fans that root for the Baltimore Orioles. Those who are not native Washingtonians root for their home teams. Baseball is still new to the area after being gone for 34 years.
D.C. is a basketball and Washington Redskins town. The city loves all levels of basketball and will pay to see it. The Redskins have always been the number one team for fan dollars. No matter how good the Nationals get this will never change.
To give one an example of what the Nationals are up against here is what took place after game three of their series with St. Louis.
In the first MLB post season baseball game hosted by Washington since 1933 the Nationals were crushed 8-0. The defeat left them one game away from playoff elimination. In most cities the talk would have been about how bad the Nationals played and whether they still had a chance to win the series. Not Washington.
Ten minutes after the defeat the local sports talk radio show moved on to football. The status of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings became more important than baseball. If one did not know any better they would have thought the Nationals hadn’t played.
To most people who care Washington is not considered to be a good sports town. This despite the fact it has a team in each of the four major sports. For what it is worth, all of them are doing well financially so someone must care.
Washington fans will come out if they are given a reason to. In 2012, the Nationals gave them plenty reason to visit Nats Park. If they continue their success in 2013 the fans will return to cheer them on. If they do not then the fans won’t. That’s just the way it is.
The Nationals have worked very hard to build a fan base. It has taken eight years to do it.
Now it is up to the organization to continue their success so it will grow.