A fan attending this week’s series between the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field could be forgiven for feeling as if 2008 was a lot more than two years ago. So, too, could a ticket broker attempting to sell tickets to the four-game set.
The key word there is “attempting.” According to ticket search engine FanSnap.com, there are 21 packages to tonight’s opening game (postponed from last night, September 27, by rain) in which each ticket is less than $10 apiece, including two tickets in Section 520 priced at just $4 apiece. The number of packages featuring tickets at less than $10 apiece skyrockets to 49 for a doubleheader scheduled for Wednesday, September 29. There are “just” 34 such packages available for the finale Thursday, September 30.
The meager demand for tickets is no surprise: Both teams are under .500 and have been playing out the string for weeks while the Mets have endured the biggest dip in attendance in Major League Baseball this season: The average crowd at Citi Field has fallen by 6,721 to 32,317. Manager Jerry Manuel is not expected to be retained, and reports in New York indicate the Mets will hire his replacement based as much on box office appeal as managerial acumen.
The mid-market Brewers do not have to worry about the embarrassment of underachieving in the same town as the reigning world champions, but they, too, have taken a hit at the gate this season: Their decrease of 3,221 fans per game is the second-biggest in the National League and fourth-largest overall.
It’s a long way from the final week of the 2008 season, when the two teams were battling each other for a wild card berth in front of sold-out crowds in Queens and Milwaukee.
The Brewers, in the midst of their first playoff push at Miller Park, played to an average of 40,425 at the 41,900-seat facility during the last six games of the 2008 season from September 23-28. Three standing room only crowds turned out for the final series against the Chicago Cubs, including an overflow crowd of 45,299 that saw the Brewers record a 3-1 win in game no. 162 on September 28 to clinch the wild card—the team’s first postseason berth since 1982. Overall, the Brewers averaged a franchise-record 37,882 fans per game and drew SRO crowds 17 times in 33 games following the All-Star Break.
The Mets, meanwhile, were trying to close Shea Stadium in style by reaching the playoffs for the eighth time in the venue’s history. More than 50,000 people turned out for six of the final seven games played at Shea in 2008 from September 22-28, but 56,059 fans went home crushed September 28 when the Mets fell to the Florida Marlins, 4-2, to finish one game behind the Brewers in the wild card race. Despite the disappointing ending, the Mets set a franchise record for average attendance for the third straight season with a robust figure of 51,165.
No matter how well they fare at Citi Field, the Mets will never approach that number again: The new stadium holds just 41,800 fans. At this rate, the Mets would be thrilled to just flirt with that number. As the fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers used to say: “Wait ‘til next year.”