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Fans used to have to find a knothole in the outfield wall to watch a sold-out game. Now they can just get out the credit card and go right in.

There’s yet another piece of potential confusion in all of this. From our fictional example, let’s say 37,000 people actually walked through the turnstiles that night. That left 3,000 no-shows among the 40,000 tickets that were in the public’s possession.

Perhaps 2,000 tickets were still for sale on the secondary market through various online brokerages, which bought them originally from the team, and the other 1,000 seats belonged to season-ticket holders who had a kid’s soccer game or a late meeting at work but couldn’t find a neighbor or a relative to use them.

Modern-day distractions can be just as much of a barrier to attendance as disinterest in the team, but for hard-core seam heads, that’s hard to fathom.

“Maybe a death in the family or something like that,” said Nancy High, a Kansas City Royals season-ticket holder, when asked at a recent game what would keep her from the ballpark.

“Or maybe a hurricane,” offered Patty Faini, who was at Kauffman Stadium that same night as part of a summer-long trip to visit every major league ballpark.

These days, fans can follow every pitch on a device that fits in a pocket. They can watch just about every game in the comfort of their home, too. So on some nights, a season-ticket holder just might not feel like leaving the air conditioning or risking getting rained on and paying $15 for parking. But is that necessarily bad for baseball?

“No-shows are almost a symptom of how busy a life that we lead,” said Jonathan Norman of GMR Marketing, a sports marketing agency based in the Milwaukee area. “That shows these fans are interested, that they’re going to buy the product whether or not they go to the game or not. That, to me, is about the strength of the MLB brand more than anything.”

Igel disagreed.

“So much of the business is built off, not the ticket price, but beyond the turnstile. Fans are buying beers, hot dogs and T-shirts all at marked-up prices. That makes a difference,” he said.


AP Sports Writers Will Graves in Pittsburgh and Joe Kay in Cincinnati and AP freelance writer Alan Eskew in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.


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