The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Memphis a Hit Everywhere Except the Gate

In most ways, 2014 marked a huge upturn in fortunes for the Memphis Redbirds baseball club.

The Triple-A operation, having dodged for a decade an immense financial burden that led to defaulted bonds and absentee ownership, a facilities manager taking over operations of AutoZone Park and even rumors of a possible move, felt that pressure relieved this spring when the St. Louis Cardinals’ purchase of the team and the City of Memphis’ ownership of the ballpark was formally completed.

On the field, the Redbirds soared, though not initially. On July 6, Memphis was eight games under .500, 6.5 games out of first place. It seemed a repeat of the last two seasons could be on the way, a period in which the club finished a discouraging total of 36 games under .500.

Instead, the 2014 team played tremendous baseball down the stretch, going 40-18 over the final two months to finish at 78-64 and win their division by 2.5 games. The Redbirds were called upon to provide a number of contributors to their parent in St. Louis in the final days, weakening the roster for the post-season.

Though Memphis fell to Omaha in the Pacific Coast League’s American Conference finals, it was a very successful season – except in one place – at the gate.

Despite every reason for local fans to get out and see Memphis’ best team since 2010, also the last season in which they made the playoffs, AZP’s turnstiles were relatively quiet.

Compared to 2013, Redbirds home attendance dropped a whopping 23 percent, from 498,000 to 381,000.

Averaging just under 5,700 per game in a park with a capacity of almost 14,400, Memphis finished ninth in the 16-team PCL in average attendance.

It was a stunning tumble, as Memphis had consistently drawn just under half a million in recent years. Back in 2005-2006, the club welcomed almost 700,000 fans both seasons, over 300,000 more than attended in 2014.

Though the pictured promotion was from 2012, not this, it is clear the new owners have their work cut out for them in terms of getting the community back to the ballpark.

With a full off-season to get ready for 2015, the challenge is clearly much greater than the product on the field alone.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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23 Responses to “Memphis a Hit Everywhere Except the Gate”

  1. Bw52 says:

    More promotions,more giveaways, hope for moderate weather and a exciting team.Plus people can stay home and watch baseball without worrying about traffic,high prices,parking etc;.Too many things competing for your entertainment dollars .

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Back in 2005-6, we were still enjoying the real estate bubble. Its 2008 bursting has subdued the economy, despite the reckless issuance of debt by the Fed. Baseball like all sports is just entertainment and people can elect to set new priorities for their dollars, as is happenning in music, movies, magazines, etc.

  2. Bw52 says:

    Somebody tell the Cards they haven`t won anything yet.They can stop sleepwalking anytime now.Banjo hitting bunch of zombie jacklegs.How about a little hitting instead of impersonating Ray Oyler.Could the Cards pull a 64 Phillies?

  3. Bw52 says:

    Cards look like flat out crap.Losing 2 in a row to thses vermin scum sucking Reds .This stinks.

  4. Bw52 says:

    Simon looks like CY Young out there and Cards hitters couldn`t buy a clutch hit.

  5. Bw52 says:

    Matt ( Don`t call me clutch) Adams and his .218 RISP strike again.Topped only by his RISP/with 2 outs .170.A rookie with a 11.57 E.R.A. shut down Adams.

  6. Bw52 says:

    Cards drop 2 in a row and go for 3 versus Kung-FU Cueto.Looks like a repeat of 1964………………..Cards imitating the Phillies

  7. Bw52 says:

    Nice CF play Jon Jay.Rag armed crappy OF.Terrible play.Lance Lynn deserved better than that today.Why didn`t MM pinch hit a RH bat for Carpenter in the 9th? Why did Carpenter stand like a statue on the 1st pitch right down the middle? Holliday did the same thing? Everybody knows Chapman is going to try and get ahead in the Count.Ellis did it too.Why waste a strike?

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Here is a better question: why would Ellis be pinch hitting at all?

      Ellis has had a long and fine ML career. Until 2014. This year, his effectiveness has a hitter has hit the wall, collapsed, died, past expiration date, washed up, over the hill. The 37 year old has an OPS under 500. He has been abominable. Its unlikely he will get a contract for next year from any team.
      Its a one run ball game versus Chapman, a lefty, one of the best closers in the game. Sending Ellis to the plate concedes the game. Maybe Mad Mike thinks, we are going to lose anyway, so spare a rookie having to face Chapman. Let Ellis whiff and we shall slink out of town.
      Meanwhile on the bench, we have two younger up and comers in Pham and Scruggs. Either man is a clearly superior choice as pinch-hitter, versus Ellis, who should just be released, after an atrocious season.
      It is mystifying why Mad Mike choose to go instead with Ellis, with a game on the line. The Reds likely win, no matter who you send up, but nobody is more hopeless than Ellis.

  8. Bw52 says:

    Cards continue with 64 Phillies imitation…………………..Teams creeping back up on punchless,heartless, inept Cards.

  9. […] an earlier article, I wrote about the huge drop in attendance for Memphis Redbirds home games in 2014. The St. Louis […]

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