Attendance at Citizens Bank Park is way down

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Between 2008-12, the Phillies were among baseball’s best when it came to filling seats on their home turf. Citizens Bank Park seats about 43,650 and officially sold out 257 consecutive games dating back to July 2009.

The Phillies missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006 last year and GM Ruben Amaro’s tepid off-season gave fans very little to get excited about, particularly when you glance a bit south on I-95 to the Washington Nationals. As a result, attendance at Citizens Bank Park is way down thus far, as the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb reports:

The Phillies drew 513,147 fans for their first 14 home games in 2013. That is 117,031 fewer fans than in the first 14 games of 2012. Their average decrease of 8,359 fans per game is second-most in baseball; only the gutted Marlins are worse.

If the trend continues, it could have a serious effect on the team’s finances.

An average decrease of 8,359 fans projected to 81 home dates is a total loss of 677,079. The team’s average ticket price is $37, according to Team Marketing Report and Forbes. That could represent, on average, a $25 million loss in revenue. And that’s just in ticket revenue alone. When fewer people are in the ballpark, less money is spent on concessions and merchandise.

(Important note: Gate receipts used to be split between both participating teams but that is no longer the case, as of 2010.)

Since 2009, the Phillies have operated with one of baseball’s largest payrolls, north of $100 million. They owe $104.5 million to just six players in 2014. If attendance continues to fall, the Phillies may find it difficult to maintain a payroll in the $160 million area. With a barren Minor League system, their ability to field a competitive roster will become more difficult as well.

Phillies fan injured after being shot by the Phillie Phanatic’s hot dog cannon

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In between one inning during every home game at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillie Phanatic will drive around the edge of the playing field shooting hot dogs into the stands from a pneumatic gun — a hot dog cannon, if you will — mounted on an ATV. Until Monday night, a fan had never been injured during this event.

Sarah Bloomquist of 6 ABC reports that, unfortunately, a Phillies fan was injured on Monday night when the Phillies opened a three-game home series with the Cardinals. Kathy McVay of Plymouth Meeting, PA was hit in the face. McVay said, “I have a small hematoma in my eye. And mostly, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. It’s going to go down the side of my face.” She also suffered cuts and bruises and had to be taken to the hospital to be tested for a concussion.

McVay doesn’t plan to take legal action against the Phillies and seems to be taking the injury with a good sense of humor. She said, “It gives people a good laugh, and if that makes somebody chuckle, then that’s fine.” McVay also advised fellow fans, “Just to be aware, because you never know. I understand a baseball, but not a hot dog.”

The Phillies reached out to apologize to McVay on Tuesday and offered her tickets to another game once she heals, assuming she would like to return to Citizens Bank Park.

One wonders if Monday’s incident might motivate the Phillies to do away with the hot dog cannon stunt. There’s really nothing gained by doing it, and there are plenty of other ways for the Phanatic to have fun with the fans around the ballpark.