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Rockies attendance is up, but not as much as MLB. Will it matter?

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, October 13, 2023

By many metrics, the 2023 regular season was a good one for Major League Baseball.

Games were shorter, there were more stolen bases, and more runs scored. Fans were treated to the amazingness of Shohei Ohtani and the homer-slugging of the Atlanta Braves. Even with perennial playoff contenders like the Yankees and Cardinals not advancing to the postseason, underdogs like the Orioles and surprises like the Rangers and Diamondbacks are giving fans an unusual playoff bracket.

But the biggest plus for MLB is the increased 2023 attendance, the biggest revenue generator for the league. Across MLB, attendance was up and passed 70 million for the first time since 2017 with an official total of 70,747,365. That was up 9.6% (by 6 million fans) since 2022 and the largest single-season jump since MLB expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

Breaking that down, the average attendance per game was 29,295, up 9.1% from 26,843 per game. Seventeen teams hit over 2.5 million total fans throughout the season and 26 teams increased their attendance from 2022.

The Colorado Rockies fall into both of those categories, despite posting the worst record in franchise history at 59-103. All totaled up, 2,607,935 fans came to Coors Field in 2023, putting the Rockies at No. 13 overall in MLB. The Rockies averaged 32,196 fans per game last season, which ranks No. 14 overall in the league.

The numbers are frustrating and baffling. At the same time, they are not surprising since the Rockies have a long track record of drawing fans regardless of the product on the field. It has also become a perennial tale — one that shows the same trend year in and year out, making fans who are burnt out on the Rockies losing ways hold fast in their protests, and all the while Coors Field remains the most beautiful and fun bar in Denver.

However, the Rockies attendance numbers aren’t as strong when compared to the rest of Major League Baseball. In 2022, the Rockies saw 2,597,428 fans come through the gates. That means 10,507 more fans attended games in 2023 than in 2022, even though the team was worse.

Several factors could account for this including having the 30th anniversary of the team with a handful of games with former Rockies stars and fun promotions. Another is the new balanced schedule that saw teams like the Yankees and Angels come to town, which hadn’t happened in a few years (and featured three sellouts and six games of at least 40,000 fans). I went to six or seven games this season and two were against the Angels because I wanted to see Ohtani and Mike Trout.

When you look at the 10,507 fans in that light, it’s not that impressive. It’s only a 0.4% improvement from 2022, which is pretty lousy compared to the 9.1% seen across the league. Since fans returned to stadiums after none were allowed in the COVID-19 2020 season, the Rockies overall rankings in attendance have decreased each year.

20 Years of Rockies Attendance

Season Record Total Atten. Total Rank Ave. Game Att.
Season Record Total Atten. Total Rank Ave. Game Att.
2023 59-103 2,607,935 13th 32,196
2022 68-94 2,597,428 10th 32,467
2021 74-87 1,938,645 9th 23,934
2020 26-34 No fans No fans
2019 71-91 2,993,224 6th 36,954
2018 91-72 3,015,880 7th 37,233
2017 87-75 2,953,650 8th 36,465
2016 75-87 2,602,524 11th 32,130
2015 68-94 2,506,789 14th 30,948
2014 66-96 2,680,329 10th 33,090
2013 74-88 2,793,828 10th 34,492
2012 64-98 2,630,458 13th 32,475
2011 73-89 2,909,777 12th 35,923
2010 83-79 2,875,245 10th 35,497
2009 92-70 2,665,080 11th 32,902
2008 74-88 2,650,218 13th 32,719
2007 90-73 2,376,250 17th 28,979
2006 76-86 2,104,362 23rd 25,980
2005 67-95 1,914,389 26th 23,634
2004 68-94 2,338,069 15th 29,595

They’ve gone from No. 9 in 2021, to No. 10 in 2022, to No. 13 in 2023. The Rockies ranked No. 8, 7, and 6, respectively from 2017-2019. Even though the numbers are up, they aren’t trending in the right direction for Dick Monfort’s bottom line, especially compared to other teams.

It does show that baseball fans in Colorado deserve better than the current Rockies, while teams like Tampa Bay, a 99-win team that ranked 27th in attendance with 1,440,301 fans and set a playoff-low record with 19,704 fans for a postseason game on Oct. 3, are too good for their Florida fans.

Is anyone interested in a Rays-for-Rockies trade?

While Colorado has a strong young roster of position players that are already improving the Rockies abilities offensively and defensively, pitching is still a huge question mark. In the immediate future, the 2024 Rockies don’t figure to be much better than the 2023 Rockies. Maybe there will be a light at the end of the tunnel in 2025, but, it also just depends on pitching.

Will another season of trending down in the attendance figures compared to other teams change the front office’s ways of business? This could mean a change in the front office, in coaching, in expanding analytics, in culture, and beyond. Or, will Colorado continue to do things in the “Rockie Way,” as defined by the Denver Post’s four-part series on the team and its 30 years of mediocrity? A quote from Patrick Saunders’ Part 1 article probably answers the question best.

“It’s kind of looked at as a weird place … The biggest reason, I think, is just how insular they are. They stick with what they’ve got.” ~ A former Rockie who requested anonymity because he still works in the game and has numerous friends in the organization.

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Former Rockies closer continues to dominate for the Braves | Rox Pile

This a nice feature on Denver native Pierce Johnson, who the Rockies traded to Atlanta in July. He’s put up amazing numbers in the postseason for the Braves. It’s not Johnson’s fault the Braves have been eliminated from the playoffs by Philadelphia. He pitched 2 23 scoreless innings over three appearances in the NLDS. He gave up two hits and two walks while striking out four to exit the postseason with a 0.00 ERA.

Diamondbacks sweep Dodgers for first NLCS berth since 2007 |

The Dodgers have been swept out and the Diamondbacks are moving on. Did anyone bet on that at the beginning of the season? Or the beginning of the 2023 playoffs? It’s even crazier to think that the last time Arizona was in the National League Championship Series, they played the Rockies. The Rockies swept them on their magical Rocktober run to the World Series. Oh, the good old days.

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Arizona Fall League

Surprise Saguaros 7, Salt River Rafters 6

Benny Montgomery just keeps raking. He went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two walks, and a stolen base, and Drew Romo added an RBI triple in the bottom of the seventh to cut Surprise’s lead to one, but the Rafters comeback fell short on Thursday night. RHP Alec Barger was the only Rockies pitching prospect in action against the Saguaros and he couldn’t have done better, throwing a perfect eighth inning. The Rafters are now 5-5 and will take on the Peoria Javelinas at 2:30 p.m. (MT) on Friday.

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