A Look at Attendance
A Saturday night crowd of 2,436 fans watched the Hawks throw their first 1-0 shutout in 122 games, dating back to the end of the 2010 season (a victory over Spokane at Memorial Stadium – with 2,900-plus fans in attendance during football season). Tayler Scott was solid, gutting through a tight strike zone to put up five zeros, helped by a pair of double play balls, while Hayden Simpson had his best outing of the season, retiring 9-of-10 men. Eddie Orozco slammed the door with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth to pick up his first save.
The win featured a ton of ground balls – as 16 outs on the night were the direct results of outs on the infield, and featured the Hawks winning for the first time when Mark Johnson had been ejected (fifth time he’s been tossed, this time for arguing a debated ball/strike call with home plate umpire Louis Williams). Video replay seemed to back up MJ’s claim, but it is the beauty of baseball – the judgment call.
Speaking of attendance, it has been a grind at the gate for the team – most pointing to the 16-27 record this season as to the reason that fans have stayed away, as the community “only supports a winner”. The Hawks have had only three crowds in 24 home dates this season above the 3,000 fan mark – while last season (with a losing record), the team had six 3,000 fan crowds at this point; and in 2010 (with a losing record), the team had nine 3,000 fan crowds by July 28. The thought of a winner was prevalent in 2010, as Boise was in a first-half pennant chase vs. Yakima – drawing three-straight 3,000-plus crowds in late July (on a Tuesday-Thursday), drawing 10,192 fans during the series – more fans than the first five games of the current five-game series combined. Even in 2003 – the worst record ever by a Hawks team (which, ironically, had a 16-27 mark through 43 games), had five 3,000-fan crowds. Has the hot weather this summer (day after day of 95-105 degree days over the last three weeks) been the issue, as the nice weather in Everett (and the best team in the NWL) has helped the Aquasox to a huge jump in attendance, while Vancouver leads the league with 11 sellout crowds of 4,900 or more.
But where do the Hawks stand amongst other short-season teams in the MILB? The team sits in sixth place among the Northwest League teams and 21st among the 34 short-season affiliates in attendance – ahead of towns like Great Falls, but behind Ogden, Billings, and even Idaho Falls.
Short Season Attendance – Aberdeen (NYP) 6,487, Brooklyn (NYP) 6,479, Spokane (NWL) 4,587, Lowell (NYP) 4,610, Hudson Valley (NYP) 4,290, Tri-City (NYP) 4,242, Vancouver (NWL) 4,122, Staten Island (NYP) 4,083, Ogden (PIO) 3,683, State College (NYP) 3,537, Billings (PIO) 3.418, Mahoning Valley (NYP) 3,117, Eugene (NWL) 3,000, Grand Junction (PIO) 2,821, Salem-Keizer (NWL) 2,747, Vermont (NYP) 2,701, Idaho Falls (PIO) 2,656, Everett (NWL) 2,513, Orem (PIO) 2,484, Missoula (PIO) 2.481, Boise (NWL) 2,388, Tri-City (NWL) 2,165, Williamsport (NYP) 1,946, Great Falls (PIO) 1,720, Connecticut (NYP) 1,612, Yakima (NWL) 1,598, Greeneville (APP) 1,456, Jamestown (NYP) 1,158, Burlington (APP) 1,151, Kingsport (APP) 1,132, Bluefield (APP) 1,025, Bristol (APP) 991, Danville (APP) 975, Johnson City (APP) 975, Elizabethton (APP) 949, Batavia (NYP) 928, Princeton (APP) 903, Helena (PIO) 879, Pulaski (APP) 811 (pictured left).
Despite the attendance woes (as typically, the Hawks average between 2,500-2,700 fans a game), they are outdrawing many teams at the long-season levels – including Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Beloit, and Burlington in the Midwest League (Burlington IA would be second to last in the Appalachian League – and is pictured right), Asheville, West Virginia, Hickory, Savannah, Kannapolis, and Hagerstown in the South Atlantic League (Yakima actually outdraws Hagerstown – where Bryce Harper made his pro debut), Rancho Cucamonga, Lancaster, High Desert, Visalia, and Bakersfield in the California League (Bakersfield draws just 686 fans a game), 10 of the 12 teams in the Florida State League, ahead of Mobile, Huntsville, and Jackson in the AA Southern League, and just behind Tucson in the Pacific Coast League – who would fall in the middle of the short-season pack.
Though we’d all hope for better attendance, we can see that it could be a whole lot worse.