Outside of almost getting no-hit on Opening Day, the first week of the New York Mets’ season went much better than anyone could have expected. But the Mets’ decent performance — they were 3-2 on a six-game road trip entering the finale this afternoon, Thursday, April 7, against the Philadelphia Phillies — probably won’t be enough to overcome the stench of their awful off-season in time to fill the seats when they return home to begin play at Citi Field Friday, April 8.
The Bergen Record in New Jersey reported this week that the Mets sent out “email blasts” to fans touting the availability of tickets to the home opener against the Washington Nationals. In addition, the Mets will give out Mr. Met bobbleheads — the type of promotion a team usually doesn’t need to offer for its home opener — to the first 25,000 fans to walk through the turnstiles.
As of this afternoon, StubHub.com had almost 3,000 tickets available for the Mets’ opener, including 136 Promenade Reserved Infield seats for $18 apiece. The list price on those tickets at the Mets’ website is $51.
An inability to sell out for Opening Day is about as bad a sign of things to come as a baseball team can ever hope — or not hope — to experience. Hope springs eternal on Opening Day, even for last-place teams used to playing in front of acres of empty seats. The Cleveland Indians, who drew the fewest fans in the American League last season, drew 41,721 fans at 45,199-seat Progressive Field for their season opener Friday, April 1 — and just 37,127 fans combined in their next four games.
Might the Mets be headed for similarly low attendance numbers? The New York Daily News reported that the Mets had sold just 600,000 tickets by the end of March, an average of less than 7,500 per game. According to the Bergen Record, a total of 52 fans stepped to the window and bought tickets in the first three hours of single-game ticket sales at Citi Field Tuesday, March 14. And at StubHub.com this afternoon, tickets to the Mets’ four-game series against the Colorado Rockies next week were available for as little as $4.
The Mets ended last season playing in front of sparse crowds at Citi Field and drew 600,000 fewer fans than they did during their first season at the facility in 2009, but the belief was the team was bottoming out and that better days were ahead once a new regime (general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins) was in charge. But, that was before a winter’s worth of bad news in which Mets ownership was sued for $1 billion by the trustee of the victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, news leaked out that the Mets needed a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball late last season and ownership announced it was looking to sell a 25 percent stake in the club.