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Monday, August 31, 2009
Brewers losing on field, winning at gate


I suppose it's not going to make anyone's list of 2009's biggest stories, but it's worth noting what the Brewers have accomplished this season. No, not in the standings. There, they're also-rans. Rather, at the box office: These "explanations" don't quite do it for me. Are playoff expectations a factor? Sure. But where expectations high throughout last season, when the Brewers also sold more than three million tickets? The Brewers had gone just 83-79 in 2007, and last year they just sort of piddled along until the middle of June. Oh, and that 2007 team sold nearly 3 million tickets and almost nobody thought that team was going anywhere.

I'm not saying it's not true. I'm just saying it's not obviously true, on its face.

As for rainy weather not cancelling games -- well, OK. The Brewers moved into Miller Park in 2001 and their attendance jumped to 2.8 million. But it fell below 2 million the next season, and didn't get impressive again until five years later.

I believe that attendance can basically be explained by four things: market size, performance, ballpark, and payroll. But one occasionally finds anomalies, and I believe those anomalies are worth more study. Because I don't think anyone's yet explained why the Brewers, an unexciting team in the 39th biggest metropolitan area in the United States can outdraw all but seven teams in the major leagues.