In an earlier article, I wrote about the huge drop in attendance for Memphis Redbirds home games in 2014. The St. Louis Cardinals Triple-A affiliate experienced a decline of 23 percent from 2013, despite the club’s on-field success – moving from six games under .500 last summer to 14 games over and winning its division in 2014.
The attendance story was much better across the Cardinals system, however. The other five of the six highest-level affiliates experienced a greater turnout of fans this season compared to 2013.
Bringing home their third Appalachian League title in the last five years, the Johnson City Cardinals increased their attendance by 58 percent. Next was A-Advanced Palm Beach with 17 percent growth. Springfield, Peoria and State College each saw an increase of between one and five percent on larger bases.
As a point of reference, attendance across Minor League Baseball overall was up 2.1 percent in 2014.
In addition to each of the six Cardinals affiliates remaining in the post-season hunt until the last week, three of them made the playoffs with two becoming champions. (In addition, the Gulf Coast League Cardinals were also division-winners, but attendance is not taken in that rookie-level league.)
|Affiliate||Lvl||HG||2014 att||Avg||2013 att||+/-||Tm||2014 win %||2013 win %||+/-|
As indicated at the right of the table above, five of the six clubs also logged a higher winning percentage than in 2013. Palm Beach led the way at just over 15 percent improvement.
There should be an asterisk by the decline for State College. Not only are the Spikes again the winningest team in the system, the 2014 drop is because they played one more game this season than last, which they lost. When it mattered most, the 2014 Spikes won one more contest than in 2013, taking the New York-Penn League title after losing in the finals the year before. (Note: Above results are regular-season only.)
In summary, Memphis reminds us that there is no clear correlation between winning and attendance. Other factors play a contributing role. However, in both cases – at the turnstiles and on the field – the Cardinals system had a good 2014 overall.
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