Minor League Baseball’s Playoff Attendance Not an El Paso Problem
Last night, the El Paso Chihuahuas and Fresno Grizzlies played an entertaining playoff game that went into extra innings. Although the Grizzlies won the game 8-7, it was a Tweet sent out by CBS4's Eric O'Brien that received most of the attention on social media.
Eric's photo was taken around first pitch of the 7 p.m. Wednesday night game, and immediately Twitter went wild.
The crowd did get considerably better during the next few innings as more fans started to make their way to Southwest University Park. The announced attendance of 4,123 was only 888 fans fewer than Game 1 of the 2016 PCL championship between the Chihuahuas and Oklahoma City. If you take a look around Minor League baseball last night for other playoff series, it makes El Paso look like some of the best fans anywhere.
Game one of the International League Triple-A playoff series between Durham and Toledo drew 4,007 fans. Only 1,491 fans showed up at PNC Field in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to watch the Yankees and Phillies (Lehigh Valley) Triple-A affiliates. In the Texas League, 1,564 people were in attendance for Tulsa and Arkansas, while 5,106 showed up to Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi to watch the Hooks and San Antonio Missions. Unlike most teams, Corpus Christi had a big promo item for their playoff game.
Playoff attendance is the same issue everywhere in Minor League baseball. Jim Paul had the same problem when he owned the Diablos and most teams struggle to attract large crowds when they do not have more than a week to market these games. The Chihuahuas drew over 500,000 fans for the fifth straight season and their staff continues to strive for an atmosphere that is fun for the entire family. They are not concerned with the smaller playoff crowds and instead are appreciate that their core fan base is at Southwest University Park cheering for the Chihuahuas.
The bigger issue is that too many tickets that are sold continue to be unused during home games. Many businesses purchase season tickets and they do not use them during the season. The Chihuahuas have spent years trying to fix this problem, and they even set up a system where season seat holders can earn credits by turning their tickets back into the club. If they are still having trouble finding people to go to Chihuahuas games or in this case the playoffs, why not donate their tickets to a charity or soldiers at Fort Bliss? It would help the team get the home field advantage they deserve.