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Pro Yakyu in Decline: Myth

Discussion in the NPB News forum
Pro Yakyu in Decline: Myth
With the end of the regular season in the Pacific League, many statistics start making their way to the public. One statistic that the press has been focusing on all season has been attendance, and they've been using it to show that Pro Yakyu is in a sharp decline in popularity.

However, if you look more closely at what these mainstream reporters are reporting, you will soon see that their primary focus has been on the Orix Blue Wave, "Ichiro's former team." And sure enough, Orix suffered the worst decline of all the teams, down 12.3 percent from the previous year.

However, these people focusing on doom and gloom failed to look around at the rest of the league.

By far and away, the Pacific League is not nearly as popular as the Central League. This is attributed to many factors, the "Giants factor" being the biggest. But it's the "press factor" that perpetuates the status quo between the two leagues. And all of the negative talk about declining attendence couldn't possibly help.

However, Daiei, Kintetsu, and Lotte all saw increases at the box office. Increases that more than made up for the loss of Ichiro. Here are the numbers:

* - new record
TeamAttendanceAvg.Last YearDiff
Daiei
Seibu
Kintetsu
Nippon Ham
Lotte
Orix
*3,087,000
1,694,000
1,593,000
1,376,000
1,301,000
1,073,000
44,100
24,200
22,800
19,700
18,600
15,300
2,786,000
1,743,500
1,148,000
1,475,000
1,192,000
1,223,000
+10.8
-2.8
+38.8
-6.7
+9.1
-12.3
Totals*10,124,00024,1009,567,500+5.8


Of course, the most important factor here was having a new team rise to become champions. When a team is winning, fans are going to enjoy the games more and come out in larger numbers. And with Rhodes, Nakamura, and a host of daily heros at the plate, Kintetsu had one of the most exciting products around. A three way race all the way up to the end helped a great deal in over all attendance as well, I'm sure.

But what I'd really like to see is how "Monday Night Pa" did. Did it help bring in some Central League converts? I sincerely hope that this continues next year, with broader radio coverage.

And most of all, I'd like to see the mainstream press investigate some of their doom and gloom supporting satistics a bit farther, hopefully despelling their myths before they start.
Comments
Re: Pro Yakyu in Decline: Myth
[ Author: Guest: e | Posted: Dec 26, 2001 1:02 PM ]

Thank you for bringing a bigger picture view to an argument I've only seen based on Orix and Yomiuri attendance (and TV rating) figures. Do you have attendance figures for the rest of the league? Is attendance overall down? Is there a trend for more than just the past year?
Attendance
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Dec 26, 2001 10:07 PM | YBS Fan ]

As you can see above, Pacfic League attendance increased by 5.8% over all.

TeamAttendanceAvg.Last YearDiff
Giants
Chunichi
Hanshin
Yakult
Yokohama
Hiroshima
3,761,500
2,421,000
2,077,000
1,860,000
1,680,000
1,000,000
53,736
34,586
29,671
26,571
24,000
14,286
3,604,000
2,479,500
2,413,000
1,595,000
1,673,000
1,109,000
+ 4.4
- 2.4
-13.9
+16.6
+ 0.4
- 9.8
Totals12,799,50030,47512,873,500- 0.6


The one piece of data that I had left out is that the number of games in each league increased to 420 from 405 in the Pacific and 407 in the Central. In that respect, any drop in attendance is especially telling of some problems.

For teams other than the Giants, the biggest factor is winning. Notice that Yakult and Kintetsu had the biggest jumps in attendance? Can it be a coincidence that they also won their respective leagues? And, of course, Rhodes' challenge to break Oh's record played a major role in boosting fans through the gates at Osaka Dome.

Hanshin's 13.9% drop is also indicitive of a team that has come in dead last four seasons in a row.

And of course the "Ichiro Factor" played a big role Orix's 12.3% drop. I think that Ichiro did play an important role in keeping fans coming out to Green Stadium during losing seasons, but without him, ...

For more reading on the subject, I suggest in this thread that the reason Watanabe-owner (Giants) has suddenly become interested in inter-league games is due to the increase in attendance in the Pacific League, showing that there is room for profit in such a venture.

The one stat that I would really like to see, though, is attendance for "Monday Night Pa" games. At long last, the Pacific League started playing on Monday nights last season, usually a dead day in baseball. I know I was very happy getting baseball every day. But I wonder how much of an impact playing on the Central League's off day contributed to the boost in attendance.
Re: Attendance
[ Author: e_as_in_e6 | Posted: Dec 31, 2001 7:05 AM ]

westbaystars, this is most helpful, and insightful. thank you.

it leads the discussion to a bigger issue (which i'm gonna post separately): what kind of money are we talking about? in this professional sport, that's what's eventually going to drive interleague play, number of foreigners allowed on the roster, attempts to keep local talent, monday games, etc. i wish it were more romantic, like the fans' and/or players' desires drive the game, but, unfortunately, the reality in NPB is just like any pro sport, meaning the owners are going to run the sport as they wish, ceding only to the fans/players when it contributes to maximizing profits.

appreciate your reply.
Re: Attendance
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Dec 31, 2001 10:00 AM | YBS Fan ]

And e-san brings up a lot of the questions that need asking. (I know e as in 2.71828182845904523536028747135266249775724709369995..., but not e6.)

First of all, I tend to be a romantic when I look at the game. The reality may not meet my expectations, but I still look for and hold on to any signs that everything isn't about a bunch of selfish brats intrested in nothing but taking as much as they can from the public.

- what kind of money are we talking about? in this professional sport, that's what's eventually going to drive interleague play, number of foreigners allowed on the roster, attempts to keep local talent, monday games, etc.

I'm pretty much completely in the dark as to the financial side of things - other than player salaries. However, things are going forward for interleage play, the number of foreign players on the field at a time has been increased to 4 next season (against the Players' Union's wishes), and the Pacific League shall continue playing on Monday nights next season, the Central League's off day. All of these changes have been requested by the fans and are being acted upon. If these changes are only being implemented to increase profits, then it shows that there is hope for capitalism yet. (I've been wondering with the recent decision to let Microsoft get away with killing the software industry - I mean - abusing their monopoly a second time without any kind of enforcable punishment.)

The only NPB team that I can say is profitable is the Yomiuri Giants. Even with their team salary which is higher than any other team they take in more than any other team in terms of ticket and goods sales.

With times as they are recently, many of the parent firms are having trouble. Maruha is wanting to sell their controlling percentage of stock in Yokohama to TBS (Tokyo - not Turner) now (after trying to sell it to Nippon Housou but running into possible conflict of interest problems). Daiei has reportedly been looking for someone to buy a three peice set of the Hawks, the Fukuoka Dome, and the adjoining hotel for quite a while - although it seems to me that the ball club has been more profitable than some of their other ventures. The Swallows' parent company, Yakult, had made some bad investments a couple of years ago and it was wondered if they wouldn't be selling off the team. Before this past season started, Kintetsu was looking for someone (Murdoc?) to help share the burdon of running an unproffitable team. (Their fortunes turned around this year, though.)

Finally, there's the age old question about what many of the clubs' purpose is: to entertain or to advertise their parent companies? The romantic in me wants to belive that they're there to entertain. As evidence, there's Yokohama who took the name of their parent company out a number of years ago. Also, one rarely hears "Toyo" when referring to the Hiroshima Carp.

Lotte, when moving to Chiba, renamed their team from the Lotte Orions to the Chiba Lotte Marines. When Daiei bought the Nankai Hawks, they renamed the team to the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. And Kintetsu stuck Osaka in front of their name a couple of years ago as well. All of these examples showing a movement toward locale recognision over (OK, along with) corporate identity.

So, as I see it, there is a trend toward capturing and/or nurturing the romantic fan such as me. If such moves help the teams to show a profit, then I have no arguement with it.
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This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

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