As sure as the sun rises in the East every morning, any team with the All-Star game would use the promise of game tickets to gain a bump in regular season attendance. Good business sense. Through the first few months of the 2012 season, this appeared to be working for the Royals - attendance was up several thousands per game over the past few years. The million-dollar question was would this attendance bump continue after the All-Star game.
The answer is...
There are two distinct attendance patterns to understand. First is the month-to-month pattern which trends up to the peak in July, then steps down. Second is the day of week pattern where games during the week are generally less than weekend games. When considered together, a month total can be skewed by the number of weekend games that fall in that calendar month.
In trying to understand the Royals' 2012 attendance pattern, we'll compare to the 2010 season which exhibits a more typical month-to-month pattern than 2011 when the callups of Hosmer and Moose altered attendance patterns.
The schedule makers helped this analysis by not scheduling any home games in July before the All-Star game. Thru the end of June (pre All-Star game), the average attendance was 23,560, which would be the best year since 1994 when the attendance average was 23,737.
In order to gauge whether the attendance drop is normal or alarming, let's start by computing related numbers for 2010 and 2011 (shown in Table 2). The 2012 month-to-month drop in July is 9.8%, which is more than the 7.7% drop in 2010.
To estimate the attendance for the remainder of the season, we'll use the 2010 step down in Aug and Sep for 2012 estimates (shown in reverse).
Since the monthly total is dependent on the day-of-week pattern, the day-of-week averages for 2012 will also be stepped down by the same percent as the month-to-month total: 2012 Aug (4.0%) and 2012 Sep (2.4%).
Based on the day-of-week averages, the post All-Star game attendance (Table 4) is down 6.4% in July, and 14.8% for the first few games in August.
In the month-to-month analysis, average attendance dropped from 24,626 in June to 22,202 in July (9.8%). The day-of-week analysis shows a 6.4% drop, which is skewed higher due to more weekend games.
August is not off to a good start - in the first three (of 15) games in August, the game average is 19,685, which is a month-to-month drop of 11.3%. Using the expected day-of-week method, attendance is down 11.2%.
The data tables show signs of a significant drop off in attendance - which leads to the most likely causes - early season attendance was heavily influenced by the All-Star game ticket promotion, start of the Chiefs season and the noticeable declining level of play by the product on the field (i.e. losing).
Using the day-of-week estimates from above, the final two months of the season can be estimated (Table 5). The obvious problem is that the 2012 attendance figures appear to be in free-fall compared to 2010.
The upper bound estimate for the final season total is 1,833,981, for an average of 22,640 - but indications are for a significantly lower final average. To determine a lower bound estimate, a ten percent drop would make the total 1,761,321, for an average of 21,744.
The lower bound estimate of 21,744 would be essentially the same as last year - the year with no All-Star game, only prospects to drive attendance.
The only hope for stopping the attendance slide would be the callup of Jake Odorizzi or Wil Myers. With that seeming unlikely at this point, if you are the last one leaving the K this fall, make sure you turn off the lights.