The lifelong fan

U-News Staff

Since the Royals made the World Series, nearly everyone in the city seemed to have jumped on the bandwagon. I hopped on, too.

During the Royals’ run through the playoffs, I heard a number of people around the city use phrases such as “I’ve been waiting since 1985 for this” or “my Royals are going to win it.” They claimed they’d loved the Royals for years, expressing their lifelong commitment to following the team; however, when asked, they couldn’t tell me anything about the 1985 World Series other than the fact the Royals won. Before this season, I wonder how many “lifelong fans” could tell me what happened in game six of the 1985 World Series. A true Royals fan would know.

I grew up loving the Minnesota Twins and watched every game, or, if I didn’t have access to a television, I’d look up the scores online. I still follow them despite four straight 90-loss seasons. Whenever the Twins played at Kauffman, I’d see rows and rows of empty seats. Where are these “lifelong fans” that have been following the Royals for years? This year when the Royals had one of the best teams in baseball, the team ranked 20th in home stadium attendance per game according to ESPN.com, which is the lowest of any playoff team. They filled, on average, 63.7 percent of the stadium per game. Kauffman Stadium has the 5th smallest seating capacity in the MLB at 37,903 and yet Royals fans can’t seem to fill it. From living in Kansas City, I assumed there were plenty of Royals fans to fill those seats.

Why should attendance matter? Since the Royals can’t get these “lifelong fans” in the seats, they can’t generate as much revenue to pay their players. This is more than likely going to lead to James Shields leaving Kansas City in the offseason. I’m curious as to what will happen with Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and Yordano Ventura when their contracts end. It’s unlikely the Royals will be able to afford new contracts for these players, and the team will suffer like it did for the past 25 years. Attendance will drop again, and the Royals will go back to being on a tight budget. It’s a vicious cycle.

I’m not criticizing bandwagon fans in general. Like I said, as a Kansas City resident, I jumped on, too. It was fun and it was a great thing to happen to the city. I’m mainly talking about those who claimed they’d always followed the Royals because it was temporarily cool to be a big Royals fan. Let’s see how many “lifelong fans” will fill the K next year if the Royals prove to be less successful.