The Value of an Empty Seat

Royals Stadium is an incredible experience when sold out - the Home Run Derby and All-Star game reminded Kansas Citians what that felt like.

As the national media types and elite players leave our town, we are back to the Royals experience at The K.

During a recent interview, the Royals' Vice President Toby Cook talked about the increased attendance in 2012, partially attributing the increase to the ticket packages tied to All-Star game tickets. He was interested in seeing how much that effect on attendance would carry over to the rest of the season.

Last year the positive effect on attendance was the call-ups of highly touted prospects like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. In 2012, the expectation is that prospects Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi will get call-ups.

These two effects suggest that the Royals should have good attendance the rest of the year.

Table 1: Royals Home Attendance by Month

Home Attendance
19,815 - (12)
16,920 - (16)
21,620 - (10)
19,980 - (12)
20,750 - (16)
23,840 - (12)
22,125 - (15)
21,380 - (15)
24,625 - (15)
20,425 - (12)
22,560 - (10)
19,610 - (12)
21,820 - (13)
19,140 - (17)
26,530 - (11)

Based on the average attendance data shown in the table, 25,000 per game is a reasonable prediction for the remaining 2012 home schedule. The stadium capacity is about 38,000, leaving about 13,000 tickets unused on average.

The cheapest seats available through the Royals online ticket system for the next home game against the Chicago White Sox are:

Table 2: Ticket Prices







Outfield Box


Field Plaza


Assuming the big-picture goal is increasing attendance, leading to increased revenues, leading to more money for player salaries, then the Royals need to view attendance as a business problem, as significant as the starting rotation problem is to the team on the field.

The All-Star events showed Kansas City is still a baseball town and just how incredible a sold-out stadium can be. Attendance at Royals' games appear directly tied to the success of the team on the field. What if we separated the two - meaning that the goal of the sales group was to sell-out every home game, independent of the product on the field.

Currently the sales group attracts fans to the game with the help of a winning team, community outreach, game-day promotions and the recent renovations at the stadium that make going to a game a social event with activities for families and non-baseball fans.

Eventually the play of the team will create sell-outs, but until then, from a financial perspective, the 13,000 empty seats represent a missed opportunity.

The ticket price is only part of what people spend when attending a game - add in parking, concessions and merchandise. The Royals would have internal data that places a dollar figure per person once they buy a ticket, and a long-term dollar figure from repeat business and merchandise purchased at local outlets.

The majority of sales activity is technically passive - advertise to motivate people to purchase a ticket. The success of that effort is dependant on people individually deciding to purchase a ticket and attending the game.

An active approach would be part of an expanded effort in the area of group sales to identify groups of people that, for various reasons can't individually attend games, but could be organized to attend games. The difference from normal group sales efforts is selectively eliminating the cost of a ticket and arranging transportation - the two barriers faced by these targeted groups.

With the multi-cultural makeup of the Royals team, each of the players could sponsor a local group that identifies with the player. A free ticket, a ride to the stadium and getting to meet somebody like Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain and Billy Butler would quickly add to the stadium attendance immediately and in the future.

By eliminating the barriers to entry, the Royals get bodies in each of the 13,000 empty seats with money to spend on concessions and merchandise that they wouldn't have done individually.

What is more valuable to the Royals - 13,000 empty seats or a sold-out stadium filled with people spending money on concessions?

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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