EDITORIAL: Significant drop in York Revolution attendance over years is worrisome
PeoplesBank Park, the home of the York Revolution, has been a downtown business anchor for more than a decade now.
There’s no debating that the hundreds of thousands of fans who have poured through the gates over the years to watch Atlantic League baseball have been a major asset to the financial health of not only the city, but the county as well.
That’s why the news that Revs' attendance dropped more than 12 percent from 2017 to 2018 should be more than little alarming.
Unless you’re Eric Menzer.
The Revs’ president said he "isn't worried about it."
Well, Menzer may not be “worried about it,” but it’s a sure bet that the businesses around PeoplesBank Park that rely on foot traffic from Revs’ games are not only worried, but downright troubled about the decline. It has a serious impact on the bottom line of each of those enterprises.
The York County Industrial Development Authority, which owns the park, should also be more than a little concerned.
That’s because, unfortunately, the attendance drop is not just a one-year aberration. It’s a serious and continuous slump.
The numbers: Since reaching a high average attendance of 4,351 fans in 2008 (the second year in franchise existence), the number of fans attending Revs’ games has been in general decline, until it reached an all-time low of 2,825 in 2018. That is a 35 percent drop over the past decade.
This year’s drop is worrying for another reason. The Revs were coming off a league title in 2017, which typically results in an attendance boost, not a significant decline.
Yes, some of the general decline can be attributed to the fact that, as with any new franchise, the shine naturally wears off a bit, and attendance drops, after the first year or two.
Still, as recently as 2014 (seven full years after the birth of the Revs), team attendance was still holding strong at nearly 4,000 fans per game.
Since that time, however, the attendance decline has been steady.
Weather issues: Menzer rightfully points out that the weather this season was “brutal,” leading to nine rain outs and 10 doubleheaders. There’s no doubt that Mother Nature scared away a lot of fans this season, accounting for some of the attendance issues.
The weather, however, was not just “brutal” for York, but for nearly all of the Atlantic League teams. With one exception (the Sugar Land Skeeters in Texas), all of York’s Atlantic League foes are located in the same mid-Atlantic region.
In 2014, York ranked fifth out of eight teams in league attendance. In 2018, York was sixth out of seven teams. It’s clear that the Revs are losing ground to their Atlantic League competitors, who have had to deal with the same generally poor weather as the Revs.
Management problem? So, it makes you wonder if this isn’t a management problem.
One problem may be that Revs’ officials have stretched themselves too thin over the years.
In addition to running the team, the Revs also now own a radio station (WOYK 1350 AM), manage the York City Ice Arena and operate Eventive, a business that organizes community events, such as the York Halloween Parade.
The Revs’ management of the ice arena has been especially problematic. The facility has long been a drain on the city’s finances and local law enforcement is conducting an investigation involving the ice arena.
It might be better if Revs' officials concentrated on their most important endeavor — running a baseball team that is vital to the downtown’s economic health.
Because, right now, that team is struggling at the gate. The numbers don’t lie — even if the team president “isn’t worried about it.”