The above timelapse video (via Torontoist) was created last Wednesday as the Jays hosted the Chicago White Sox. A near-record low crowd of 10,744 people took in Toronto’s humiliating 11-1 loss.
If you find yourself watching the video and being so consumed with the novelty that is motion that you miss how depressing it is, watch this video of Minnesota’s home opener and compare the scene in the two videos.
Not pretty, eh? You better get to used to it, because the record low number seems to getting lower all the time. Toronto’s fans set a new low again last night as 10,314 showed to watch the Jays trounce the Royals.
But if you’re worried that the team is going to go the way of the Expos, stop. It’s not happening. Jeff Blair and Rob Neyer have already outlined why they think there’s nothing to worry about. Since Blair buried his points on this topic, I’ll quote him here:
take it from somebody who chronicled the Expos demise, there are several significant differences:The Blue Jays are locally owned by deep-pocketed owners; the Expos were owned by New Yorker Jeffrey Loria, who took advantage of weak local minority owners;
Rogers owns the Rogers Centre and the revenue streams that come with it;
Rogers needs content for its sports channel;
Montreal’s business community never supported the team by buying tickets – even when it was winning;
commissioner Bud Selig has no place to put the Blue Jays, as was the case with the Expos and Washington, D.C. Getting a team back in D.C. was a legacy issue for Selig, and unless they get a new ballpark Tampa Bay is the next team to move.
Blair’s points are too strong to ignore. The Blue Jays, despite the cries of all the Chicken Little wannabes out there, are not the Expos.
I do have one point to add to Blair’s list. It may seem counter-intuitive, but working in the Jays’ favour is the fact that Toronto is not a baseball town. Let me give that its own line:
Toronto is not a baseball town.
When it comes to sports, this city is two things: 1) A Maple Leafs (not hockey) town; and 2) A town full of bandwagon jumpers.
I firmly believe the attendance is so low at the SkyDome so far this year because the team didn’t build up any false hopes in the fan base. The fair-weather fans won’t be coming out to see a losing team, mainly because Toronto is not a baseball town. But it doesn’t matter. Alex Anthopoulos has a plan in place to build the team into a winner. When the team starts winning, all the bandwagon jumpers will be looking for a seat and nobody will have any worries about the team leaving town. It won’t be leaving in the meantime either because it’s too valuable to Rogers right where it is.
Want an idea of what the future could be like? Go watch the video of the Twins’ home opener again. As you’re watching it, remember how MLB tried to make that city join Montreal on its way out of the league. The Jays aren’t the Expos, but they will end up being the Twins (minus the new park, of course).