BEEK'S BLOG: Turning the Stiles

Bee Staff WriterApril 15, 2013 

— On the field the Modesto Nuts still are trying to find some early traction in the 2013 season, but the franchise needed only three games to set records at the gate.

1. Thursday’s crowd of 4,214 gave the Nuts their first home-opener sellout since 2010, and by backing it up with Saturday’s fan count of 4,891 it marked the first time ever Modesto has welcomed two sellout crowds in its first three openings of a season.

2. Saturday’s crowd was the largest ever for a game in April, breaking the record of 4,657 on hand last April 20 to watch the Nuts get blanked 9-0 by Stockton. Attendance in April, more than in any other month, is impacted by the weather, thus the comparatively rare nature of April sellouts. Of the top 35 attendance marks in Modesto history, only four come from games played in April.

3. Combined with the Friday crowd of 3,737, Modesto set an all-time record of 12,842 for its first three games. The previous record was 11,242, set in 2010. That season’s first night crowd of 4,427 remains the record for an opener.

According to team officials, the franchise full-season attendance mark of 180,785 should fall this season if the breaks go the team’s way. When referring to breaks, they’re actually talking about the weather, since early cold/wet forecasts have undercut attendance forecasts in past seasons, as have spells of very hot weather in the second half of the season.

So for record attendance to happen, the team roots for weather that doesn’t stray too far from the average.

WHAT’S A SELLOUT?

I received a question from a fan on Friday asking how Thursday’s game could have been called a sellout when it was obvious there were seats available in the stands.

It’s a similar question asked by many fans of the San Francisco Giants. That team’s run of 169 straight sellouts is the longest current run in major league baseball, although there are numerous unfilled upper deck seats for midweek games played at AT&T Park.

In the Nuts’ case, the official seating capacity at John Thurman Field is 4,000. Give or take a handful, that’s how many reserved seats the ballpark contains, so any attendance figure in excess of 4,000 is deemed a sellout.

But the Nuts can put a significantly larger number of fans in the ballpark because of a generous amount of standing room access down the right and left field lines. In addition, when the twin press box level party decks were added prior to the 2009 season, Thurman Field’s non-seated capacity was increased by 400.

Similarly, the Giants have a large amount of standing areas from which games can be watched, so fans have made it a habit of buying tickets to the cheap seats, then watching the games from the standing areas.

The two largest crowds in Modesto minor league history both have come for Independence Day fireworks celebrations since the installation of the party decks - 5,424 on July 3, 2009, and 5,413 on July 3, 2012.

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