It seems like long ago that Citizens Bank Park was regularly packed to the gills.
On August 6, 2012, the Phillies failed to sell out CBP for the first time in 257 games. The sell-out streak began on July 7, 2009 and didn't stop for more than three years, lasting through their NL pennant-winning '09 season, their two additional NL East championships in 2010 and '11, and most of the disappointing season of 2012.
Times, they have a'changed.
Last year, the Phillies finished 25th in attendance, averaging 23,475 fans per game. That comes out to 53.8% of capacity, which was 26th in MLB. And in 2014, the Phils averaged 29,924 fans per game (16th in MLB), 68.6% of capacity (15th in baseball).
So it's not news that the Phillies have been losing fans. But it is surprising how they compare to the rest of the league.
A new study by 24/7 Wall St. has found that no Major League team has lost more fans over the last 10 years than the Phils. And the only professional sports team in America that has lost more fans over the last decade were the NBA's Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons have seen their attendance decline by 30.8% over the last 10 years, with the Phils not far behind, at 29.5%. And over the last 10 years, the average capacity filled at Citizens Bank park is 53.8%, with average home attendance 23,475 over that time. Citizens Bank Park holds 43,647 fans.
Here's what 24/7 Wall St. said about the Phils' demise.
The Phillies are one of two professional teams in the City of Brotherly Love that have lost more than a fifth of their fans over the last decade. Faring even worse than the 76ers, attendance at Phillies home games has gone down by nearly 30% over the last 10 years, the second most precipitous drop in professional sports.
Home game attendance has not been dropping steadily, however. In fact, total attendance went up every year from 2005 to 2010, reaching a peak of nearly 3.8 million in 2010 after two consecutive World Series appearances. Since then, attendance has dropped each year, bottoming out last season with total home game attendance of only 1.8 million.
The 76ers finished seventh on this list, by the way.
It's no secret that good teams draw fans and bad teams keep them away. So it's not surprising the Phils have lost so many fans, especially when you consider that, for a more-than-three year stretch, they set attendance records the franchise has never seen.
It's expensive to come to games. Getting to the park, dealing with traffic, the hassle and cost of parking, and the experience of watching the game at home on a big screen TV certainly are impediments to getting fans out to the park.
However, it's likely the team will see a slight uptick in attendance this year, given the exciting young talent that should be making its way through town. And even if you are one of those fans who has decided to stay away for a while, that's cool too.
So yes, it's OK to stay away for a bit. And yes, Phils attendance will be down for a little while.
But don't expect it to stay that way for long.