The numbers are in: Nationals Park is the worst-attended new ballpark since the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome opened in Minneapolis in 1982.
OK, yes, the final game was rained out, meaning the total paid draw of 2,320,400 is based on only 81 games rather than the scheduled 82. Still, no asterisk is necessary on this dubious feat: If you add the per-game average of 29,005 to the 80-game total, you still can’t match Cincinnati’s 81-game 2003 mark of 2,355,259.
And trust me, there was no way 29,000 people were showing up to see the Nats play the Marlins on a chilly Thursday night, even without the rain.
Look on the bright side: The Nats didn’t lose their 100th game at home, and if you look at the how full the ballparks were in their inaugural years, the Nats narrowly beat out the Reds: Nats Park was 69.2 percent full this year; the slightly larger Great American Ballpark was only 69.1 percent full in 2003.
As for next year? Look for a sharp dropoff. The Reds went from a 29,077 average in Year 1 to a 28,237 average in Year 2 (and a 23,989 average in Year 3). More recently, the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park drew better than 40,000 per game in Year 1 (2004), then only 33,316 in Year 2. Ouch!
Photo by Darrow Montgomery