Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's Hagerstown not Harperstown

Bryce Harper last year's number 1 draft pick in major league baseball is playing well for his minor league team the Hagerstown Suns. However, Hagerstown hasn't filled the Suns park every night to see the future star. Comparing attendance up until this point to previous attendance through June for the last five years shows the team's attendance has jumped maybe 200-300 fans a game, when overall attendance is around a couple thousand. The total impact on attendance may also be reduced if fewer fans go to Suns games this season once Harper is promoted and leaves Hagerstown.

This result is consistent with a paper (Top Prospects and Minor League Attendance) my Towson colleague Tom Rhoads and I published in this month's Journal of Sports Economics, where we find over the last 15 years even the top prospects only increase attendance by a small amount for minor league teams.

See more thoughts on the subject Camden Depot and some other baseball studies.

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Millsy said...

I've read the paper and enjoyed it. 200 to 300 still seems to be a rather large number as a percentage of attendance at the park, though.

Being from Frederick, I know the Keys are a very near substitute and much closer to more people than Hagerstown. Given the increased travel costs with this close substitute literally right on the way (you can see the stadium!) to Hagerstown from almost anywhere in Maryland east or south of Frederick, do you think that this could have an effect on the willingness to travel out there? That wouldn't make your conclusion wrong (in fact, perhaps it would enhance it since it shows *few* people are willing to take on the extra travel costs to see Harper).

Just curious.

Seth Gitter said...


200-300 fans a game is 10-15% that isn't small, over 70 homegames it's still small compared to Harper's salary. Living in Silver Spring I have thought of going up to see Harper and almost went to see Strasburg. I will check to see if Frederick's attendance has changed much.

Thanks for reading the paper!