Nationals fans will be in the house and maybe a lot of them.
There has been little room for fans of the Nationals, or really any other team, because the Phillies have sold out their own house for much of the last 10 years, leaving room only for Phillies fans. That started to change in August of 2012 when the Phillies’ home 257-game sellout streak came to an end. The evolution of going from all sellouts to mostly sellouts to actually struggling at the gate took some time, but it has finally arrived in Philadelphia.
This year, after the first six home games, the Phillies had 186,036 fans, 50,000 fewer than 2013’s first six games. Through the first nine home games, the Phillies are averaging 29,076 fans, and that represents the lowest total in the decade-long history of Citizens Bank Park. The lowest total in a single season was 32,905, set in 2005.
The Phillies have nobody but themselves to blame for the bottom line, since they over-committed their payroll to an aging group of veterans and those veterans have not produced to the numbers the Phillies hoped to get. Only Chase Utley, who is hitting .355 through 23 games, is getting paid anywhere near what he’s worth. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, on the other hand, are getting paid for past performance, not current ones.
It’s a hard lesson in economics that the organization is learning now. The Phillies should have known that investing so much money in players on the decline is a failed business model. Spend money to make money should be the future business model, and players should be paid on future projections, not past performance.
The fans have rejected the current product. It’s well past time to implement a new plan.