The New York Mets Held Back and It Paid Off
As some of you may know, I am a New York Mets fan and the season opener is a bit of a tradition for me and a friend from grade school. So even though I usually write about technology or IPOs in this space, bear with me while I indulge a different passion.
I was surprised this year when the Mets decided not to play their newly returning pitcher Matt Harvey in the opening game. He had not pitched since August of 2013 due to an arm injury that required surgery; but based on his prior track record, lots of fans were excited to see him back on the field. Instead of playing him in the opener, the Mets announced that Harvey would pitch in the second game of the season. The decision to save their returning star pitcher for the second home game turned out to be a huge 'win' in more ways than one!
When you look at the past three years' attendance stats below, there is generally a steady decrease in attendance from opening day to the second game.
Opening day = 41,053
Game 2 = 22,239
Opening day = 42,442
Game 2 = 29,146
Opening day = 43,947
Game 2 = 39,489
This year's attendance is the highest with nearly 44,000 fans and that is without having Harvey on the mound. It’s highly probable that there was a dramatic increase in attendance for the second game, over 10,000 fans (a 26% increase), because they started Matt Harvey in that game. That strategic shift proved to be best for the team and best for business. From ticket sales to parking fees to concession sales, the increase in fans for game two had a compounding effect.
Each year I've gone to the opening day game and it has always been a sellout. Ironically, the stadium finds a way to somehow pack more and more fans in each year (note the increase from 41K to 42K to 44K). I’m not sure how they are getting more seats in the stadium, but there's one thing I am sure of… From the play on the field to the revenue generation, this is a great start to the season!