23 Aug


The Mississippi Braves have seven home games left, starting tonight against Jacksonville. Their playoff hopes are pretty much crushed. Players are still trying to put up numbers to secure spots for next season, either with the Braves or someone else. And the M-Braves’ front office is watching its numbers, too, mainly this one: 2,609. That’s the season attendance average at Trustmark Park, the $30-million stadium that can accommodate 7,000-plus. Attendance is down more than 300 per game from last year and more than 1,200 from the inaugural season of 2005. And keep in mind, the 2,609 represents tickets sold, not fannies in the seats. The real average is much lower, possibly under 2,000. And crowds for these last few games don’t figure to help the average. Is this a troubling trend? One would think so. Here are some other numbers to chew on: In 1996, the Jackson Generals’ average attendance peaked at 1,866 per game in 5,000-seat Smith-Wills Stadium. The Generals, who had a sweetheart lease agreement, were losing money even then. Their average attendance dropped in each of their last three seasons, hitting 1,416 (an actual crowd count!) in 1999. The Texas League franchise, sold by local owner Con Maloney in 1998, moved in 2000 to Texas. The independent Senators’ best average in their four years at Smith-Wills was 1,991 per game (tickets sold) in 2003, their championship season. The Senators averaged an announced 1,500 in their last season, 2005, when they were essentially driven out of business by the arrival of the M-Braves in Pearl. There was so much hullabaloo about landing Atlanta’s Double-A club, but all of that seems to have died down. Way down. Truth is, the M-Braves aren’t drawing much better than the Generals or Senators did. And neither of those clubs survived. That’s interesting, to say the least.
P.S. Weir’s Roy Oswalt has certainly delivered for Philadelphia, which pried the right-hander away from Houston to help it chase down Atlanta in the National League East. Oswalt won again Sunday, his third straight victory. Of course, Atlanta may have made a counter move by promoting former M-Braves lefty Mike Minor, who also won on Sunday while striking out 12 Chicago hitters. Minor is 2-0 in three starts.

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