The biggest game in five years — the cherry on top of one of the most interesting teams the Braves have fielded since moving from Milwaukee — didn’t sell out. Attendance was announced Saturday at 35, 616, well below capacity. For the year, The Mallpark attracted just over 2.5 million paying customers, about 600 more per game than in 2017 and a tick below 2013 at Turner Field, the last time the team made the playoffs.
We were told attendance would rise in a park closer to the bulk of the team’s season ticket buyers. That never made sense — you already had ’em.
What they’ve lost is not insignificant. Many intown Atlantans who once cheered for the team no longer care, resolute in their scorn. Ownership abandoned them when they built SunTrust Field in the middle of a Cobb office park, and while then-Mayor Kasim Reeds deserves some of the blame, the fact remains the Braves are dead to many who call Atlanta home.
There are other factors. It’s gotten more expensive to attend a game, and baseball continues to careen towards irrelevance with millennials. But it’s still troubling that, after five years of wandering in the competitive wilderness, a signature moment in the team’s history was met with so much indifference. We’ll see if that changes in the playoffs.
(The photo accompanying this post was taken one hour after first pitch Saturday.)