More losing seasons are taking it’s toll on New Orleans’ fan base

By
Updated: January 2, 2017

A curious lack of attendance is causing a budget crunch for the team

 


Scott Plack, The Cajun Chronicles
October 12th, 2024

Despite the New Orleans Trendsetters finishing the season with a respectable 77-85 record, which is a 17-win improvement from only two years ago, it seems as if the 14 consecutive losing seasons have begun to spawn indifference within the team’s fan base, and could take the wind out of the team’s planned revival.

For the first time in a decade, the team failed to draw 2 million fans to New Frontier Park. Attendance dropped sharply from 28,898 fans per game last year, to only 23,568 this season. Only a few years ago in 2020, the team drew over 35,000 per game. According to Baseball financial specialist Rodney Watt, it could cause a vicious cycle if they are not careful:

“The team has a lot of young talent which, as they mature, will ask to be compensated accordingly. The team is reaching that maturity stage with a few of these players”, he said. “If the money isn’t in the bank to offer them something due to a lack of revenue, they will leave and this will only worsen the attendance problem by, in turn, worsening the product on the field. This can become a long and difficult cycle to break” added Watt.

The team is at a crossroads. Their original plan factored in an uptick in revenues for the upcoming season by winning enough games, which would have allowed them to retain most of their talent and to continue to build, but the financial situation only seems to get tighter with each passing season. Since 2021, the Trendsetters cut their payroll by 31% in order to balance the books. Now it looks increasingly likely that a further budget hit for 2025 will force them to cut even more salaries, which would be a delicate operation if the intent is to use their current core of players to keep building.

After this season, several players’ contracts are up, such as infielders Dave Hurley, Kevin Forrest and Bob Dunn, as well as pitchers Tom Emerick, Patrick Barraclough, Don Killy and Donald Mays. Up to now, the team was simply not able to offer them any meaningful extensions.

The second option, of course, is to announce a baseball yard sale and cut salaries down to the bare minimum, grab as many draft picks as possible and restart the entire process from the bottom up, but team officials seem hesitant to go down that route, as it could cause irreparable damage to the team’s fan base and could prevent them from digging themselves out if fans need to suffer through any more 100+ loss seasons.

The team has many up-and-coming home grown players who make up a solid core for next season, such as outfielder Jim McIntosh, third baseman Bob Swift, first baseman Felix Zavala and a list of pitchers; Takanobu Shirai, John Turner, Luis Garcia, Hugh Higgins and Jose Martinez. The team also has a core of solid veterans, such as pitcher Justin Barton, catcher Jack Collins, and of course Trendsetters legend Dave Nash.

Ever the optimist, team Manager Mike Whiteman sees it as an opportunity. “It never hurts to switch things around and move some players and bring fresh faces in. I think there is some potential there. People counted us out so far, but we keep improving. I think we can keep molding this team the way we want it, little by little.

It will certainly be an interesting off-season for the team, to see if this delicate balancing act can be maintained and if the progress can be kept.