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Monday Rockpile: Rockies Disappointing 2011 Misses Golden Denver Sports Opportunity - Or Does It?

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At the beginning of the season, the Rockies found themselves in a very unique and potentially awesome place. The Broncos finished their season at a miserable 4-12, tied for the second lowest mark in the NFL. Aside from that, the NFL appeared poised for a unpleasant labor dispute. Next, the Nuggets, despite finishing a promising 50-32 and the 5 seed in the Western Conference, looked to be swept under the rug with the rest of the NBA during THEIR labor dispute. Finally, the Avalanche were going to be fighting an uphill battle for relevance in 2011 even before the NBA went on strike. As the 4th most popular of the major 4 sports in the USA, and after finishing 2nd worst in the league, the Avalanche are going to have trouble enough as it is filling their seats.

No, the 2011 Rockies were supposed to be the best team in Denver, head to the playoffs, and finally make their mark in Denver as a "team to take seriously". Nobody's ever going to unseat the Broncos as top dog in Denver, but the Rockies were in a place to do so. 

Instead, they fell flat on their faces, and a Denver fanbase looking for a winner left Coors Field a graveyard.

Wait... did they?

Right now the Rockies are at Game #146. Prior to today, at the 145-game mark, the Rockies had drawn 2.6M people through their gates to watch what they'd probably like to call "baseball". They're averaging nearly 36,000 per game, up about 30 people per game from last year (and that figure is up about 3000 from 2009). That ~36,000 is 11th in MLB, 7th in the NL.

It's almost unsettling. It's as if Denver isn't actually paying attention. I obviously don't WANT the attendance to drop, because that would actively hurt the team that I love and support. But it's kind of confusing to watch the trend in Rockies' attendance. The Rockies have certainly made major moves in the past 12 months: extending Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez; trading Ubaldo Jimenez. These are both moves that you would think would have an impact on the attendance, first boosting, then shrinking. Instead, it would appear that Rockies fans just keep showing up and enjoying the game of baseball, regardless of what kind of product has been put on the field.

It's taken awhile for me to really get on board this, after seeing entirely too many evenings at the Pepsi Center with a half-full arena at absolute best, but maybe Denver fans just like baseball/evenings at the ballpark so much that it'll take an extended streak of failure to actually jar the fanbase into showing their displeasure and dissatisfaction in the form of ticket sales. 

So is there a "window" of being the most popular team in Denver? Probably not at this point. I mean, you can probably make the case based on Nuggets attendance alone that Denver fans will just attend sporting events at random. 

This all being said, Rockies' attendance has always been very good, only dipping below 2M in one season, 2005. Maybe it just took a couple of playoff runs to remind Denver fans how awesome baseball is.

Either way, I'm not going to complain about these attendance numbers. More fans coming to the games means we're that much closer to Aramis Ramirez.

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