The Mets did not make the playoffs, but they did make an impression at the box office in a season in which they won 80-plus games for only the third time in Citi Field history and featured the presumptive National League Cy Young Award winner and Rookie of the Year.
They drew 2,442,532 in paid attendance for an increase of 217,537 over 2018 – the fourth-best such figure in Major League Baseball after only the Phillies, Twins and Padres.
The fact that overall it was a down year for MLB attendance increased the Mets’ degree of difficulty. The Yankees won their first division title since 2012 but saw their still-robust total drop from 3,482,884 in 2018 to 3,304,404.
“The players built a nice bond with our fans,” said Lou DePaoli, the Mets’ executive vice president and chief revenue officer. “I think it is a really nice, likeable team that plays hard every day. Obviously, with the amazing comebacks we had, they never quit, and that obviously resonated with the fan base.”
Asked whether Pete Alonso in particular might have provided a boost as he chased and eventually passed Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record, DePaoli said internal surveys of fans over the final week might prove that to be the case, at least in part.
But he cited a number of established and emerging stars with fan appeal, including reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom.
On the business side, DePaoli said he remains bullish on the long-time strategy to focus giveaways and other promotions on weekends rather than weekdays, playing to an existing strength.
“If I can spend a dollar on a Tuesday, I might get back $1.20 in terms of advertising,” he said. “If I spend a dollar on a Saturday, I might get back $2.”
DePaoli said when the team was struggling early this year and attendance was roughly flat with 2018, what kept it from slipping in part were the Mets’ promotions, which included pop culture tie-ins with powerful brands.
Unlike in cavernous old Shea Stadium, where attendance figures fluctuated wildly over the decades, Citi Field has operated within a relatively narrow range.
Since cracking the 3 million mark in the stadium’s first season in 2009, the ensuing 10 seasons have had a low of 2.14 million in 2013 and a high of 2.79 million in 2016.
DePaoli declined to give specific numbers for early 2020 sales, but he said since putting season tickets on sale in mid-August, the team has sold more than twice as many new ones as this time last year, and that renewals also are around double what they were last year.
“The market reacted to the quality of the team on the field and obviously they reacted to the promotions and the efforts we put in on the business side,” DePaoli said. “There is a lot of high hope as we head into 2020 and beyond that the nucleus of this team should be around for a while.”