On the final homestand of the season, the Royals brought their attendance at Kauffman Stadium to almost a dead heat with last year.
Sunday’s announced attendance of 27,899 pushed the season total to 1,750,754, for an 81-game average of 21,614. Last year, the Royals averaged 21,748.
With the team having its best season in a decade, it seems strange the Royals needed the enthusiasm of a wild-card chase in the final home games to approach 2012, when the Royals finished 72-90.
But increased interest has been indicated in different ways, like television ratings. Through August, the Royals’ ratings on Fox Sports Kansas City were 69 percent higher than a year ago. To Royals’ senior vice-president Kevin Uhlich, having your attention but not your presence isn’t an unusual condition.
“There’s a lag factor,” Uhlich said. “But what sets off better attendance in the future are TV ratings. They’ve been great, and it means there’s interest.
“A lot of those people aren’t die-hard fans. They’re watching because of the way the team is playing and getting a taste of Royals baseball. It’s a low-cost sneak peak, and eventually we hope they become people who come to the ball park.”
Other factors are at work. The last time the Royals played in the postseason in 1985, fewer than 30 home games were televised. If you wanted to see the team, usually you bought a ticket.
This year, 140 games were scheduled to be televised, and the team reached agreements to televise additional late-season games.
Also, in 2012, a guaranteed ticket to the All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium required a season-ticket purchase, and that increased the team’s total to about 12,500. This year, the number fell to 10,400, and Uhlich estimates the Royals started 2013 some 170,000 pre-sold tickets behind last year.
An encouraging sign this season: In recent years with the team floundering late, the Royals’ no-show rate was 15-to-21 percent. This year, through August, it was 6 percent.
“People are not only buying tickets but they’ve been getting used,” Uhlich said. “They’re not leaving them in the drawer. Now, we’d like to sell more.”Winning at the K
Home has been sweet to the Royals, for a change.
With Sunday’s victory, the Royals posted a 44-37 record this season at Kauffman. The last time Royals won that many at home was 1992.
Even in 2003, the last time the Royals posted a winning record, they were 40-40 at home and 43-39 on the road.
“We’re getting to be a better team, that’s why we have a better a home record,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “And we’ve got a better road record (38-36) than we’ve had in a long time.”Fourth slam walk-off
Justin Maxwell’s fourth grand slam of his career was also the fourth walk-off grand slam in Royals’ history. It’s the first since Joe Randa beat Tampa Bay in 2001. The others: Cookie Rojas in 1974 against the Orioles and Rey Palacios in 1990 against the Red Sox.