Taking in a Giants game lately has been unlike taking in a Giants game at anytime in the team’s 59-year history in San Francisco.
It’s expensive. Very, very expensive.
Three world championships and beautiful stadium make for a hot ticket, one so hot that the club has recorded 523 consecutive sellouts at AT&T Park dating back to 2010.
But with the club on pace to lose 100 games for the first time since 1985 – and just the second time in franchise history dating back to 1883 – Giants tickets can be had at Candlestick Park prices, as Katie Dowd pointed out on SFGate.com this weekend.
Dowd writes: “Seats right behind home plate are just $89 each for Monday's game against the Rockies. Waiting until the last minute can yield even better bargains from season ticket holders looking to dump seats that are about to be worthless.”
That’s bad for the Giants but good for the fans who feel they’ve priced out of AT&T Park during the championship years.
Henry Schulman noted in the San Francisco Chronicle that, not only can tickets be had for bargain-basement prices, but the sellout streak now is in peril. He writes: “Russ Stanley, the Giants’ managing vice president for ticket sales and services, said the six games on the current homestand will sell out as well, but acknowledged that he and his staff ‘definitely have our work cut out for us, and we will have to be creative’ to maintain the streak during less desirable games later this season.”
Schulman said it perfectly: “The beautiful park alongside China Basin has become a place where supply and demand is meeting wins and losses head on.”
And just wait until August and September, when the Giants have traded away established veterans for promising minor leaguers. History tells us the fans will stop coming … in droves.
The Giants were mostly bad in the 1970s and their attendance suffered because of it. From 1972-77, the team averaged just over 640,000 fans per season. But starting in 1978, the team’s first winning campaign in five years, the Giants drew more than 1 million fans for six consecutive seasons (not counting the strike-shortened 1981 season). But that streak came to a screeching halt in ’85. In the midst of an historically bad season, the Giants drew just over 800,000 spectators.
The team was again a winner in 1986 and the turnstiles, once more, started humming.
See how it works?
Granted, this comparison is somewhat flawed. Prior to 2000, if the Giants were losing, there was absolutely no reason to visit Candlestick Park (OK, there was one … to earn the coveted Croix de Candlestick pin). Today, even if the Giants are bad, AT&T remains a destination.
But is the ballpark enough of draw to keep fans coming even though the Giants are playing out the string … in June?