The Rangers in 2015 were one of baseball’s best, most surprising stories.
Their intriguing storylines included a rookie skipper in Jeff Banister who became a leading candidate for AL Manager of the Year and the return from a major injury by Prince Fielder, who won the AL’s Comeback Player of the Year award. Their lineup included a future Hall of Famer at 3rd base (Adrian Beltre), two exciting young stars in center field (Delino DeShields) and 2nd base (Rougned Odor), and the return of the prodigal son (Josh Hamilton).
To add to the perfect storm DFW experienced a mild summer, with the first 100-degree day holding off a month later than usual (until mid-July) and the number of triple-digit days staying below normal (15 instead of 18). Oh, and by the way, the Rangers shook off the loss of ace Yu Darvish and a sluggish 7-15 start, made a sexy trade for a proven ace (Cole Hamels), won the AL West and pushed the Blue Jays in a scintillating 5-game ALDS.
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The Rangers built it. But – relatively speaking – they did not come.
Despite the surprising success and fascinating plots, the Rangers suffered another significant drop in attendance in 2015. Average attendance for games at Globe Life Park dipped to 30,764, lowest in six years and a decrease for the fourth consecutive year. The Rangers drew only 2.4 million to Arlington, down almost one million from the franchise high of 3.4 million in 2012. The drop equates to about 12,000 fewer fans per game.
Difficult to explain. But undeniably a black eye of the DFW sports fan in general and the Rangers’ fandom in specific.
The Rangers suffered a loss from 2014 of 2,801 fans per game. Only four teams in all of baseball endured bigger declines at the gates, and none of them – like the Rangers – made the playoffs. In fact, all of those teams – Braves, Brewers, A’s and Phillies – lost at least 94 games and finished at least 20 games behind their division champion.
Maybe Hamilton was right about DFW not being a baseball town. Because the numbers are proving that – as far as attendance – it’s either World Series or bust.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.