Why aren’t Atlanta fans buying sports tickets?

Metro Atlanta fans tell the AJC that, partly as a result of the extended economic slump, they’ve cut back on buying tickets to sports events. Attractive rates for TV sports packages and convenient Internet access are also cited as factors keeping fans away from games.

The Braves, Hawks and Thrashers have all seen attendance decline, with the Thrashers showing the lowest drop at less than 1 percent. The Hawks saw the biggest drop in regular-season attendance, falling 5.4 percent from last season. The Falcons do not disclose season-ticket sales and renewal figures.

Tell us: Have you cut back on the number of sporting events you attend? Did you cancel season tickets for a favorite team? If so, was it because of the economy or better deals via TV or Internet?

99 comments Add your comment

bob lablaw

May 26th, 2011
8:18 pm

I buy braves and falcons tickets because I feel like they deserve my $$. I refuse to buy tickets to the hawks because I don’t feel they’re serious about winning. The same goes for the thrashers. If that means the thrashers are leaving town, so be it. It’s really that simple for me.

DHD

May 26th, 2011
8:24 pm

Atlanta is a metro city of 5.5 million. There are only 450,000 inside the city limits. That means there is a commute. High gas prices come into play. The price of food at Turner is crazy. School is another factor for baseball. The games are on TV. You may have not heard, but the economy is not the best right now. So, bottom line: money.

Dennis Murray

May 26th, 2011
8:25 pm

Don’t teams depend more on season ticket sales (usually corporate) and television revenue from local tv to actually finance team operations?

With two small kids and most game times of sports well after 7 PM, we don’t see many games live. When we do – we’ve chosen lately to enjoy the minor league offerings (G Braves, Gladiators, Silverbacks) because ticket prices are a good value, parking is sometimes free, the games have fewer interruptions due to television requirements, and it is easier for suburb dwellers to get to.

2seat

May 26th, 2011
8:39 pm

The problem is most of Atlanta (and surrounding metro counties) are not natives and came here from somewhere else. As a transient city, the people that live here have no sense of fanhood and loyalty to their town. So as a result, they become bandwagon fans of whoever the hottest team is since historically Atlanta teams don’t win the big games. Take the Braves, in the world championship era, the stadium was packed…they stopped winning and now, they’re setting records for lowest sales. If people understood the meaning of truly being a fan, I think we’ll see the difference in our team, thus a difference in our ticket sales.

~Diehard Native

rusty

May 26th, 2011
8:48 pm

I canceled season tickets to the Falcons a few seasons ago because I got tired of being around nothing but drunken, obnoxious jerks. It made the games no longer fun to go to. I will go to a couple of Braves and Thrashers games a season, depending on who they are playing, but I enjoy watching at home with a few people better. I don’t care anything about the NBA so the Hawks don’t exist in my eyes.

Claudell Washington

May 26th, 2011
8:50 pm

As far as the Braves go, so many diehards living all across the Southeast that can only make one (maybe two or three trips to Atlanta) per summer. The Braves have a top-five fan base in MLB, and I would venture to say they are the most-watched and most-listened to team in MLB. Seemingly, the Braves are embraced across the region more than they are in the metro.

worm

May 26th, 2011
8:59 pm

If you have to ask, then you haven’t a clue..NBA has way too many teams in the playoffs..Baseball has way too many games..NFL-Too many preseason games and primadonnas…High def TV killed the radio star!

scottbravesfan

May 26th, 2011
9:12 pm

People in Atlanta didn’t support their teams even when the economy was booming in the 90s. You don’t get the rep as the worst sports town in America overnight. Braves playoff games don’t sell out. That is laughable. The Falcons have tons of empty seats for their “sellouts” and the Hawks are towards the bottom of the NBA attendance even though they are a playoff team year in and year out. And the Thrashers are 28th out of 30th in attendance. You don’t support any of your teams and you can’t be surprised when the team packs up and leaves. You people in Atlanta better be glad that the Braves have a big regional following because that’s the only thing keeping their attendance numbers up. And you can talk about school being in but not everyone in the metro area has school age children. And Los Angeles, DC, Houston, Dallas, and other cities are sprawled out as well and their teams draw. Atlanta just sucks for sports.

MB

May 26th, 2011
9:14 pm

In recent years, I have been going to more Braves games than I did the previous year. I went to 11 last year, and plan to go to about 14 this year. However, I understand why some people do not want to go unless the tickets are given to them; the fact remains that the Braves are still under-performing. People just don’t want to spend money to see a loss, and I have to say I know how they feel.

scottbravesfan

May 26th, 2011
9:16 pm

And don’t say sports don’t matter for a city either. They do. Ask someone from Boston or New York how sports effects their quality of life and their perception of their cities. They have pride in their cities. No one in Atlanta does. And when a city loses a team, like the Thrashers, it looks bad on the entire city. You are not considered “major league”. Seattle is still hurting on losing the Sonics. San Jose is begging for the Oakland A’s to move to their downtown to help their downtown businesses. Sports matters people whether you want to believe it or not.

TopperCat

May 26th, 2011
9:54 pm

If the games weren’t so inconvenient to get to, I’d go to many more. Living in Cobb County, it is an absolute pain to take I-75 all the way down to Turner Field and then pay 12$ to simply park. Seriously, let’s move these stadiums out of the slums of downtown and somewhere more practical to get to. The money of Atlanta isn’t inside the perimeter…

djv125

May 26th, 2011
10:05 pm

TopperCat, you’re statement seems to be racially charged…

Eric

May 26th, 2011
10:31 pm

I’ve read a lot of reasons on her but I really don’t think anyone is hitting the nail on the head. The teams (players and management both) have to give us a compelling reason to come. Aside from maybe Matt Ryan, there’s not a legit superstar in this town. Chipper is an all time great, no doubt about that, but he’s far from being a top 10 player in the league. Joe Johnson is a great player but not a transcendant superstar.

We have not had a player step up that is exciting enough and compelling us to go to the games, whether it be a home grown one or a free agent.

When we had Mike Vick (no matter how you feel about him now) you didn’t hear about people saying they lived too far away or have kids. People made time to get to the games. When we had Justice, Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz in their primes, the Braves were exciting. When we had Nique people came.

We also had owners who made us believe we stood a chance. They made us feel like they would sign the free agents or trade for a great player to get us over the hump. Now we have nothing but dumba$$as and a faceless corporation.

Trademark

May 26th, 2011
11:01 pm

The metro unemployment rate is almost at 10 per cent; if you add the unreported and underemployed, it’s probably closer to 18 per cent. Personally, I was laid off eight months ago and have only been able to find part-time work. The 6 to 8 Hawks and Thrashers games that I used to take the family to in the Wintertime just didn’t happen because of limited finances. By now, I would’ve taken the family to at least 2-3 Braves games by now, but we haven’t made it out to Turner Field because we simply don’t have the discretionary income to spend these days.

Steven

May 26th, 2011
11:34 pm

djv125, there was no discussion of race in this column until you mentioned it…….

ninja

May 26th, 2011
11:34 pm

I love all my Atl sports teams! But one thing that is missing is atmosphere around the stadiums. For instance Turner Field, there needs to be more around the stadium. Bars, restaurants, shopping for starters. When you go to a Braves game, most people go to the game and then jet the F out of there after the game. And I don’t blame them because at night people get nervous around that part of town. If they would make it more fan friendly like Fenway, then I think there would be alot more fans buying tix. There are huge crowds walking around that area whether it is a gameday or not. Even at the GA Dome and CNN center your options are limited even though you have access to a few spots there is not enough. And the public transportation system sucks here. It is disappointing to me that Atlanta has not figured this out. You go hang out around Turner Field on a non gameday, you are asking to get mugged, killed, jumped, robbed, in any case, nothing good!! Have like an Atl Station setup around Turner Field and I bet it does wonders for tix sales!!

ninja

May 26th, 2011
11:37 pm

I’m with you TopperCat!! I sure wish the GM Plant deal would have worked out for Arthur Blank!

Keep Hockey in Atlanta

May 27th, 2011
1:17 am

I think it is a combination of things that are keeping people away. Also the metro-area is full of northern transplants that don’t support the teams. Try going to a Braves game when the Yankees or Red Sox are in town, how many of those Yanks and Sox fan live in the area but only go to Turner Field when those teams are in town?

TopperCat

May 27th, 2011
4:01 am

djv125, sorry. I didn’t mean for that to come out sounding as harsh as it did. To clarify, I’ve never been a fan of putting a stadium in a “less fortunate” part of a city to “revitalize” it. Slums was probably the wrong word to use…my mistake. No racial undertones intended.

ninja, yes! The GM plant at Doraville would have been a great location for a stadium. Being right on Marta, 285, and 85 would have been quite pleasant…but oh well….maybe some day in the future.

TheySuck.

May 27th, 2011
8:39 am

Because they fucin SUCK! Enough said.

Joe Friday

May 27th, 2011
8:48 am

The biggest problem is the lack of an effective transit system. There is a light rail system that is being proposed that will help things tremendously, but it’ll take a decade or more to implement. The 2nd biggest problem is that the town is mostly transplants from other cities, and people carry their allegiances from the teams they rooted for as a kid growing up. The kids that are born here over the past generation will help things out, if they stay here. They’ll have grown up as Falcons, Braves, Thrashers (oops) fans and will support them. In 20 years, the scene will be much different with an efficient transit system and the current generation of kids having disposable income.

location....location...location

May 27th, 2011
9:00 am

The location of the stadiums in Atlanta is awful…… the majority of those who pay to attend the games do not live in the city, yet all of our stadiums are in the heart of Downtown. While this might work in other cities, it doesn’t work well here. If the stadiums were at the 400/285 interchange or even the 85/285 north interchange. Our attendance would be much better, especially for hockey. It’s called demographics… they should have done a study before they built the stadiums.

Jim Hummer

May 27th, 2011
9:09 am

The Braves practice of raising prices for Saurday night games has so turned me off that I will not attend another Braves game until this changes. I used to go to 5 games a year – 4 seats. Now zero.

Shannon

May 27th, 2011
9:18 am

We used to try and go to 2 or 3 Braves games a month. It’s down to one per month now with gas prices, parking prices, and concession prices.

@Location….location….location: I do not agree that a move to the northside would solve any attendance problems. For one, I live on the southside and I would definitely not come to games if they were that far away from me. I like the location of the stadiums, but Atlanta needs better rapid transit options to get people to the stadiums so they don’t have to pay for parking.

Waleska Dawg

May 27th, 2011
9:42 am

In years past I have attended 6 or so Braves games per year. Usually, I decide to go on short notice and buy tickets at the box office. Since the Braves began charging an absurd day-of-game surcharge of $3 per ticket, I find that I go to fewer games. Junk fees make me grouchy.

Honest Ingine

May 27th, 2011
9:43 am

I went to a braves game last time they were in town, Parked in lot, tailgated had a great time. Got inside, 7$ for a beer… come on… Prices at the concession have gotten crazy…..could not wait to get back to the car… will not go back this year. I do have tickets for the Gwinnett Braves….5$ to park, more reasonable and better facilities.(no bums asking for money, or trying to sell me drugs…)

Common Sense

May 27th, 2011
9:43 am

Im sorry but 4.00 gas might be one reason . Looming job cuts might be another . The cost of food is out of this world. The cost of a sporting ticket for our sub par sports teams is another . And the fact that I pay $125 a month for HD tv and can sit in the comfort of my own home and not have to worry about getting mugged, robbed or killed in the safe streets of Atlanta is another .

dave

May 27th, 2011
9:44 am

TopperCat was right the first time, the stadiums in Atlanta are in slums (Braves) and very bad areas to be in at night (Falcons, Hawks, Thrashers). Blank wants to build a new football stadium out of downtown for that reason. Until the corrupt ATL PD has a new chief, this will not change.

ARod2000

May 27th, 2011
9:58 am

The absurd ownership group of the Hawks has clearly shown they aren’t serious about winning. It would mean a good deal to have ONE owner and to make wise hiring decisions from players to coaches. The Hawks have had some great success developing/drafting players like Smith and Horford and acquiring other great players. But it’s difficult to forget their mistakes due to the magnitude of them. Passing on Chris Paul and Deron Williams when we’ve need a good PG for 10+ years is/was/and will always be, one of the most bone head moves in all of sports. New owners please!! (just ONE)

Maryanne

May 27th, 2011
10:07 am

I am tired of all the professional players being rewarded for bad behavior and whining about money resulting in strikes and cancelled seasons. I will not go to a professional sports event unless it is golf– these guys are paid according to talent and winning not whining and poor behavior with the exception of Tiger Who?

Daniel

May 27th, 2011
10:09 am

Waleska – agree 100%. I used to ask my wife “hey, what should we do tonight?” “hey, let’s take in the Braves game” $4-6 for upper corner tickets are a super deal, plus MARTA got a couple of fares from us.
The day-of-game surcharge is an absolute kick in the pants. It is now impossible to get list-price tickets unless you visit the box office in advance of the game day. Who does that? I’m not paying Ticketmaster fees and I’m not paying Braves fees.

Joe

May 27th, 2011
10:22 am

hawks need a superstar.

Old South

May 27th, 2011
10:35 am

Since you asked– Atlanta city is just not a fun place to visit. There always seems to be a criminal element lurking, even during one of the sporting events. Then the venue itself, perhaps minus the Philips Arena, will likely be in an un-welcoming or isolated place where entry and exit is often difficult. And then, in the case of the Falcons, the marketing is completely to urban low income African-Americans of which I do not consider to my taste.

The smart thing to do would be to move all these teams, except the Falcons, outside of Atlanta city. The Gwinnett Arena or the like would not have all these issues.

v

May 27th, 2011
10:59 am

The ultimate cost of all the downsizing, cutting this, cutting that, saving this, and saving that, is no one has the disposable income to attend anything but work. Add the 8 hour per day traffic horror, plus the court horror, if you get into an accident of any kind, going to or from anything including church. Add to all that the inability of georgia politicians to get much of anything right: It has taken fifty or more years to figure out how to distribute driver’s licenses. They are still confused by the idea of alternate merge – note all the “right lane ends” on freeway on ramps. The calculus of this mess generates three final questions: Why would anyone in the Atlanta area do anything besides go to and from work? Why would you not leave at the first opportunity? Why would any team risk the area? Disclosure: I have lived here three times since 1980. When our family manages to escape from this version of hades this time, I plan to never come back – for much of anything, unless things change more than a lot.

Green

May 27th, 2011
11:08 am

I can think of several reasons.. mainly ticketing and transportation. Whenever I consider going to a game, I think the price is appropriate until they add in the Ticketmaster fees and charges… which jack the price 30-50% per ticket. I then cancel the sale and watch it on TV. Then there is parking fees downtown, which are set by the friends of previous Mayor Campbell who now have complete run of the racket. I’ve taken MARTA before, however at Braves games I don’t want to wait 2 hrs in a mob to get on a slow overpacked bus of drunks. At Falcons and Hawks games, I don’t want to be waiting late at night for almost a half-hour on the East-West line or at Lindburgh station for a train to come, with no police presence obvious.

e l pratt

May 27th, 2011
11:16 am

I refuse to go downtown because from my perspective, it is not safe to do so. Additionally, the extreme Left wing politicians refuse to honor the safeguards that the US Cinstitution reserves for us citizens so that we may protect ourselves. From my somewhat detached position out here in suburbia, I see a constant barrage of murders, rapes robberies, assaults, car jackings, thefts from automobiles, etc. In the vernacular of the Media, “If it bleeds, it leads.” And, while I realize that such extreme incidents are not the majority and many people get into and out of Atlanta unscathed, my thinking has led me to err on the side of caution. I attend a few sporting events in my community and watch some on television. But, I will not pay the outrageous prices that the Falcons and the Braves want for their tickets AND be subjected to the unsafe conditions of Atlanta as well as the Unconstitutional restrictions imposed by the Atlanta Police Department. No thanks!

NoFear

May 27th, 2011
11:28 am

@eIp > > I see that 10 years of right-wing behavior modifications has really affected you completely. Be afraid, be very afraid of everything. We are looking out for you, we know you are scared but you are under our control, patriot.

e l pratt

May 27th, 2011
11:45 am

@ NoFear>>I have heard that inocuous voice of ‘big brother’ before. How’s that ‘change’ working out for you? Have you had to start wearing that rfid in the back of your right hand, yet? Or, did you get it put on your forehead? Hmmm?

Eddie

May 27th, 2011
11:53 am

i have definitely cut back. teams (all teams) have priced themselves out of the market. who wants to pay $25-45 for an upper level ticket? i’m so tired of people saying the fans suck because we don’t support our teams! most of us middle class folks can’t afford it regardless of the economy. how about the teams suck because they don’t make their product affordable?

Rich Monyer

May 27th, 2011
11:59 am

Check the economy. As a retiree living in a fee based country why should I fork over big $ to spoiled athletes so they can act like idiots and as far the owners they are no better than Shylock in Shakespeare’s play. When I want sports action I go watch the local kids who play their hearts out and don’t start acting stupid until Junior High.

Joe Schmoe

May 27th, 2011
12:00 pm

College football seems to hold steady amount of fans. Not a big Pro Sports fan anyways. Cant wait till Saturdays at Bobby Dodd.

David

May 27th, 2011
12:02 pm

Mike discussed this story last night on the Southern Sports Universe. Download the show at blogtalkradio.com/nba

BravesFan

May 27th, 2011
12:03 pm

Ok, for me I dont go because they are boaring and have been for years. They are so busy keeping the players in sink that there is no excitement in the game. These teams (and its been this way for several years now) just go through the motions of playing the game, there is no excitement. Why bother driving all the way downtown when you can just check in every once in a while on TV. I mean its not like we will miss much. A few swings in the dirt, half hearted swings, players not running hard. Sorry but this team is simply drab. Get some exciting players and managers and maybe the fans will come. Look, the players who created spark on the team they get rid of. Furcal was one of them. Oh cant have the life in a player so get rid of him. Just boaring, plain boaring.

Jack P

May 27th, 2011
12:05 pm

It’s simple. No money

Richard J.

May 27th, 2011
12:08 pm

Are you kidding? Me and my family have been holding back since 2008 and if this economy doesn’t improve we will keep holding back. First priority is feeding my family and paying my bills. I would love to go out and spend more but right now it is impossible.

Steve

May 27th, 2011
12:08 pm

$4 a gallon gas, food prices skyrocketing, home prices plummeting & $78 for a single ticket to watch a millionaire play a game … um, I don’t think so . . .

Mark (another one)

May 27th, 2011
12:09 pm

I have already listed some reasons under a different article but let me add. I work during the week near the stadium but my family is 20 miles away. It doesn’t make sense to go by myself, but during the week, traffic makes it impossible to take family to anything downtown. I’m from LA and found the traffic there to be more predictable.

On the weekends, it always seems that the connector or 75 is under construction. I am not going to spend 3 or 4 hours in traffic to watch any sports event. Sorry.

Tana

May 27th, 2011
12:11 pm

e l Pratt: If you are staying away from sporting events because of the “violence” that “left wing politicians” shield you from protecting yourself from, then I’m glad you and your stereotypical southern mind set stays away. I bet you are afraid the fans at the Falcons games are going to attack you. In short terms, you are not attending games because of a racist feel.

I don’t attend games because Atlanta makes games too outpriced. They also put limits on what you can buy and when you can buy it. The Braves refused my family from purchasing 17 Opening Day tickets. A family of 17 who has been to every Opening Day for 8 years was barred from the game this year because we didn’t want to buy a “package deal”.

Package deals are a bunch of bull.

ATL Observer

May 27th, 2011
12:14 pm

It’s simple:

If you put a team in the northern suburbs, you’d be giving up on everyone in the city because the public transit in this town sucks.

If you put a team in downtown, you’re giving up on everyone up north. Half of them are scared to death (as the comment above would illustrate) and the sensible ones still can’t go because if they want to bring their families, they probably work in the city, and have to get the kids and then brave the commute to the game. This place just isn’t built to BE a city. I have a feeling the state likes it that way.

location....location...location

May 27th, 2011
12:14 pm

It’s not the money…. check stubhub, you can buy 4 tickets for $20 to a braves game pretty much any night of the week. It’s the location, most of the fans live north of the stadiums and city with a very small portion of the population actually in downtown atlanta. Not to many people want to leave work at 5pm and go sit in traffic for an hour and a half to go watch games that start at 7pm. Start the games at 735 or move the stadiums north. If the hockey team played in a stadium in sandy springs as was originally proposed, they’d still be here.