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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Brewers Have One Million Reasons to Love Being in the NL Central

The Astros will be playing ten home games against the Rangers in 2013 and, approximately, the same amount for many years to come.  The increased attendance/revenue generated by extra Rangers' games at Minute Maid Park bodes well for Jim Crane's Baseball Company.  Even the butts of Rangers' fans in the seats of Minute Maid Park will enhance the Astro franchise's ability to spend more money on the club when the Astros of the Future develop to the point that they are ready to be just "The Astros".

It is difficult to project how additional dates with the Rangers(and the Red Sox and Yankees, as well) will increase Minute Maid Park attendance long-term if/when the novelty of playing these teams wears off.  However, at least in one case, a team's move to a different league resulted in a substantial gain at the turnstiles.

In 1998, the Milwaukee Brewers made an unprecedented move from the American League Central to the National League Central. Much like the Astros, who are moving into a division with a nearby rival, the Brewers began competing on a regular basis with their neighbors, the Chicago Cubs(Wrigley Field is less than 100 miles from Milwaukee). At the end of the 1997 season, the Brew Crew, managed by Phil Garner, made the leap to the National League, bidding adieu to the Royals, Twins, Indians, and White Sox. The benefits reaped by Allan Huber Selig's former team as a result of their new neighborhood have been huge.

Over their last 15 years in the NL Central, the Brewers have hosted the Cubs(and their fans) 118 times.  The average attendance at Milwaukee County Stadium and Miller Park over those 118 dates has been approximately 37,200.  In all other Brewers' home games, the average attendance has been about 28,700. 

Doing the math, every time the Brewers hosted their NL Central rivals from Chicago, an extra 8500 people came to the game.  Over 15 years, that's a little more than one million additional tickets sold in Wisconsin.

I doubt that the 250-mile away Rangers' pull in Houston will equal the magnetism exhibited by the Cubs in Milwaukee.  However, it will be interesting to see how much power the Silver Boot has in the years to come. 

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