There was a time not too long ago when Citizens Bank Park was scorching like The Flaming Lips. It made scalping tickets a full-time profession and gave every bottled water seller a shot as a part-time employee. But now, the unemployment line is long and the stadium is a sea of blue. What happened?
The Philadelphia Phillies are in a dogfight in the National League East and have every chance to win the crown. Their lineup of homegrown talent and spectacular pitching performances has kept them in contention as we speak. Hell, they have one of the best home records in baseball and a slugger named Rhys Hoskins who recently become the fastest Phillie ever to reach 30 home runs; he did it faster than Chuck Klein and faster than Ryan Howard.
Still, no one shows up.
In fact, it took the New York Yankees to come into our house for a series to boost attendance. The Bank saw an influx of 40,000 fans in a non-home-opener for the first time since July 2, 2016. This is unacceptable.
What we have to ask is why? Why are people deciding to stay away from the ballpark? The Phillies are among the top ten in the league when it comes to ticket prices, but Philly’s shown in the past they aren’t afraid to pay to see a winner. It is summertime, but vacations still didn’t stop tailgate parties in the past.
In an effort to try and figure it out, I am going to go out on a limb and put my finger on two reasons why I feel the seats are empty: boredom and identity.
Let’s first break down the notion of the Phillies as a boring baseball team. When Gabe Kapler took over as manager, he said we would see a different style of baseball. He wasn’t lying. With the frequency of high pitch counts and numerous pitching changes, it’s painfully obvious that a Phillies game has no timestamp. In the minds of some, it’s just not fun to watch.
On top of this, there is no team identity. From Hoskins to Aaron Nola, a personality that stands out in a crowd is hard to find. These aren’t Chase Utley’s “World F$#king Champions” or Mitch Williams’ team of jersey-switchers. Gone are the days of “special vitamins” courtesy of “The Dude” and clubhouse keg stands brought to you by “The Kruker.” Besides the occasional outburst from new face Jake Arrieta, this is a team who wants to speak by performance. However, even the best performers carry some sort of interest level.
As the second half of the season starts to heat up, so should the attendance levels in Citizens Bank Park. Obviously the stagnant voice of positivity will continue with Kapler and the vanilla attitude of Matt Klentak will keep people listening less, but if the Phillies remain in contention, the fans will start showing up. In the past, people were sold on attitude, but with this team it’s more about the wins. However, until this team builds a personality, the scalpers will continue to be flooded with expired tickets and the bottled water sellers will continue to have cases on sealed with plastic.
What’s your reason for the drop?
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