Special Assignment: Getting Bodies To The Ballpark

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Despite winning the Texas League Championship four years in a row, the Midland Rockhounds boasted the lowest average attendance among League teams in 2017. 

The Friso RoughRiders led the league bringing in an average 6,812 fans per game. The Springfield Cardinals landed in the middle at 4,801.

But the Midland Rockhounds only drew in an average 4,211 last season.

Midland also recorded the lowest average attendances in 2016 and 2015. The Rockhounds won the Championship both of those years, as well.

Some of those numbers are contributed to the population of the areas that the teams play in.

But Rockhounds General Manager Monty Hoppel said winning does not bring fans in. He said ticket sales and attendance fluctuate with the oil economy in West Texas.

“We’d seen a little bit of an uptick back in 2014 when oil prices were high. That was a pretty good year too. And then 2015 and 2016 dipped a little bit so now we’re starting to make our way back up and so far so good,” Hoppel said.

Mark Nicholas has had Rockhounds season tickets for more than 20 years. 

“We had a suite for a number of years and we got to the point where we couldn’t afford it when things were really tight,” Nicholas said.

Now that West Texas oil prices are in a boom period, Hoppel said attendance is on the rise.

The 2017 season brought in about 15,000 more people to games compared to the year before.

Community Relations Director Courtnie Ortiz said promotions greatly contribute to the attendance.

Ortiz said the organization uses theme nights and giveaways to help draw fans in. Some examples include replica Texas League championship rings and trophies, and a “Bark in the Park” theme game.

“People will buy our weekend plans just so they can come to that game on Friday and get that giveaway,” Ortiz said.

Those promotions just might be doing the trick. Hoppel said season ticket and suite sales are up about 5 percent compared to this time last year.

Time will tell- and the oil economy- if Rockhounds attendance goes up over the next few seasons.

Watch the video above for more information on the Rockhounds’ attendance.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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