The Kansas City Royals are off and running, but there weren’t many fans there to see it.
The Kansas City Royals 2022 season is off and running with plenty to celebrate early. Thursday’s Opening Day didn’t disappoint and is an early sign of what fans have to look forward to this year. The only problem was only 28,549 witnessed what turned out to be one of the more exciting starts to a season in recent memory.
Royals fans will have to go all the way back to the start of the 1995 season to find an Opening Day that had a turnout below 30,000 fans. On April 26, 1995, the Royals played the Baltimore Orioles in front of only 24,170 fans.
On that Wednesday afternoon, Kevin Appier went 6 2/3 Innings giving up 0 ER in a 5-1 Royals victory. Much like Thursday’s opener, the weather wasn’t favorable for fans that day either with on-again-off-again showers prior to the first pitch. The game, however, was played without delay with temperatures holding in the mid-60s for the game.
Plenty of Opening Days have been played under unfavorable weather conditions since that 1995 season. The underlying similarity is both of the seasons started immediately after a work stoppage across MLB. But was this really the reason fans didn’t show up?
Out of the other games played across MLB, there wasn’t a dip in attendance, including a game across the state in St. Louis under the same exact weather conditions. Fans filled Busch Stadium with an attendance of 46,256.
Arizona also opened after a season where they lost 110 games but were still able to boasting attendance of 35,508.
Many of the local fans have attributed and voiced a decline of interest in Royals baseball due to the lack of access to watch games on streaming services. Bally Sports is continuing to play hardball with streaming services like YouTubeTV, Hulu, and Sling.
With all the factors in play it is most likely the Royals will compete with the Opening Day contest of the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays scheduled for Friday for the poorest attended opener. The Rays drew 25,025 in the last non-Covid impacted season in 2019.
With all of the above mentioned factors there will only be one way for the Royals organization to recapture a fanbase who once was applauded for their passion in both 2014 and 2015 seasons. Get a product that fans are willing to pay to watch.
After Thursday’s game there is plenty of reasons to think that attendance will go up as the season starts to progress and fans start to understand that this is a team that is going to produce results on the field.
This is the only team that can say it can has players from three different decades of Royals baseball. Zack Greinke won a Cy Young in 2009. Salvador Perez is lone remaining member of the 2015 World Series Championship team still on the Royals roster. Then there is the phenom that is quickly going to become a superstar named Bobby Witt Jr. who made his debut yesterday the represents the real future of the franchise.
This team is simply just build differently than most teams in the league. There will be a blend of speed on the base paths mixed in with the potential to be the best defensive team in all of baseball that will set this team apart from the others within the AL Central.
This team might not make the playoffs the season but there is reason to believe they will still be in the hunt come September. The attendance will go up as the weather warms up, but that is going to take some winning baseball.
Otherwise the Royals will once again be mocked as just a small market team that plays the game in a town where their fans don’t care. That is so far from the truth, but Thursday appeared tell a different story.