Mets home attendance appears likely to rise over last season, when the team experienced the franchise's lowest home total since 1997, a club official said this week.
"Halfway through the year we have our slight uptick in attendance already," chief revenue officer Lou DePaoli said. "So, now it's a matter of what kind of hay we can make the rest of the season. The team has been playing well and the fans have reacted just in the last week or so," he said of the 8-2 homestand leading into the All-Star break. "You saw some pretty nice crowds toward the end and I'm sure if the team continues to play at that level we'll see more increased interest."
The Mets, who are 45-50 and seven games back in the NL East, have 33 home dates left when they return to Citi Field July 28. "If the team continues to make it interesting in August or September and be in the hunt obviously we would expect to see some increased attendance in the ballpark," DePaoli said.
Last season, the Mets drew 2,135,657 fans, the lowest at home since 1997 at Shea Stadium, when they drew 1,766,174, according to Baseball-Reference.com. DePaoli wants to put that decline in the past, saying, "That is the plan. Every day that's the plan to keep this thing going back in the [right] direction." The Mets' average attendance last season was 26,366. They have drawn 1,278,686 thus far, an average of 26,639.
"I think we can grow attendance regardless, as long as the team is competitive," DePaoli said. "It doesn't have to be a 100-win team. It can't really be a 50-win team . . . We'd like to think even if the team [record] just stayed status quo our attendance is going to go up a little bit by the end of the year."
If the Mets falter and become sellers at the July 31 trading deadline, DePaoli said he will adjust. "It's the nature of the beast," he said. "When you take a look at it from the big-picture perspective, if you wind up getting rid of a player or two you have to assess what the popularity level of the person was and what's our message going forward. Yes we did this and here's why but here's what we got back in return. Vice versa, it's a lot easier when you turn around and say we just added players because we're trying to make a stretch run. That's an easy one."
DePaoli said he will rely on weekend promotions, such as fireworks, concerts, free shirts and other giveaways to boost attendance. "One thing we try to talk about internally, we really can't rely on team performance good or bad," he said. "We try to play it so it's down the middle. You build the infrastructure so that if the team performance increases we can maximize the opportunities and if the team doesn't perform well you can minimize any damage."