Yankees' attendance is down almost 3,000 per game

Fans get ready to exit as the game Fans get ready to exit as the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees is postponed due to inclement weather at Yankee Stadium. (May 19, 2013) Photo Credit: Mike Stobe

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Yankees attendance is down an average of nearly 3,000 per game this season, which team officials attribute to a variety of factors, including poor early spring weather, injuries to prominent players, the attention focused on four local teams in the NBA and NHL playoffs and the larger economy.

"I can give you 13, 14, 20 different factors, not one of which is the reason, but all are applicable," Lonn Trost, the team's chief operating officer, said Thursday.

Trost had warned in February of soft season-ticket renewal figures at some price levels, a concern that has proved valid two months into the season.

The Yankees' average paid attendance through Wednesday was 38,035, a drop of 2,915 fans per game compared to this point in 2012, according to Baseball-Reference.com. (The Mets were steady, down 29 per game to 26,673.)

"We're not the only team whose attendance is down, believe me, I can assure you of that," Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said earlier this month.

Eight other teams, including attendance stalwarts such as the Phillies, Red Sox and Cubs, have seen average drops larger than that of the Yankees.

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The attendance dip has been particularly frustrating for the Yankees. By most assessments, the team has overachieved on the field given the injuries that have sidelined Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Andy Pettitte and others. But those injuries have robbed it of star power.

"Did it have an effect that 99 percent of our team was playing in Tampa [at the team facility there] or not playing at all?" Trost said, overstating for effect.

"Does it have an effect that you can't name the players without a scorecard? Sure . . . We put in replacements who the fans knew of, and we lost them, too."

Trost took issue with the perception that expensive tickets largely are to blame. "I actually think that is the least of the issues," he said, saying the costliest seats mostly are sold but less pricey ones have gone begging.

"[The media] always talks about the expensive seats, but we have affordable seats every day -- specials, $5 nights, children go free, Boy Scout nights, senior citizen night," Trost said.

Before the season, the Yankees opted out of MLB's partnership with the resale site StubHub.com, partnering with TicketMaster in an effort to gain more control of the secondary market for their tickets.

Trost said it is too soon to fully assess the implications of that move, which he called a "mixed bag" so far.

"Have some brokers complained? Sure," he said. "But we haven't seen many complaints from the fans."

After visits by the Mets this week and the Red Sox this weekend, the attendance average is likely to improve. The hope is that it will spark a trend into summer.

"I think as the kids get out of school, the weather warms up and the other sports have wound down, so to speak, it's going to get better," Steinbrenner said.

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"I think more and more fans are going to come out and support this team, which again I believe deserves support, regardless of what their last names are. They've earned it."

Said Trost: "If I had one thing to say to our fan base, it's 'come on out. There are tickets here for everybody.' "

With David Lennon

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