LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Where is Kirk Gibson when you need him?
A repeat of the ninth-inning heroics of the former Los Angeles Dodgers great may be the only hope to stop plunging attendance at Dodger Stadium amid a downward spiral for the organization.
Attendance at Chavez Ravine is down by an estimated 200,000 people heading into the summer stretch, with a host of factors being blamed for the drop-off, including frustration over the team’s performance, lingering management concerns, and fan safety both inside and outside Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles Times sports columnist Chris Erskine told KNX 1070 the Dodgers’ attendance woes are not atypical among other Major League Baseball teams in this economy, but it could hint at bigger issues within the organization.
“Half the teams have seen declines in attendance, but the average is about 300 fans [per game] — the Dodgers are down 7,000 fans,” said Erskine. “So it’s pretty alarming.”
In addition to the slump in attendance, a 10 percent drop in TV ratings for the team may indicate fans are growing weary of a brand that seems to be stumbling both on and off the field.
Even as owner Frank McCourt battles increasing criticism for his handling of the team’s finances and personnel decisions, Erskine remains wary of any change in ownership reviving public interest in the team.
“The disenchantment with the owners is huge,” said Erskine. “I think [a change in ownership] gives them a sense of hope, it depends a little bit on who that is.”
“Every time a new owner comes in, everybody gets optimistic that things will be better than they were before, and then it doesn’t always pan out,” he added.