Friday, August 29, 2008
This article in the Washington Post talks about two teams that are in the top five in (announced) attendance despite the fact that both teams are doing quite poorly on the court.
The first team is the Washington Mystics. (Hey, it's a Washington post article.) The second is the Atlanta Dream.
Which is really amazing, considering a) that we're so poor on the court, and b) the fact that Atlanta hasn't historically supported winning teams, let alone losing teams. Atlanta is just a crappy sports town. So why do we love our Dream so much?
Here are some of my theories:
a) We're an urban team. Philips Arena is located in Downtown Atlanta. It's right off MARTA. This allows the audience to come right off the train and watch the game. Whereas if you want to watch the Atlanta Braves, it's a pain in the ass to take MARTA. You have to get off at Five Points and take some bus.
The fact that the Braves have something called the "Lexus Parking Lot" indicates exactly who they're catering to. It's not the fan who has $10 in his pocket who is looking for something to do. Hell, it costs $10 just to friggin park at a Braves game.
The crowd is mostly black and lesbian, it seems. It's a hip, happening crowd with a particular vibe. You have people dancing in the seats. It's not the sea of white faces you'd find at Turner Field.
b) The venue. I hate to admit it, but Philips Arena is pretty sweet. The staff there are friendly. The upper bowl of Philips is closed off by big black curtains, which give the illusion that the venue is only the smaller bowl. The lighting is warm and intimate. It's almost like you're watching the Dream in your living room.
c) The fans. Without going into the volunteer sales force, and how they've managed to drum up support for the Dream, let me write that the Dream fans are...well, they're frigging maniacs. Atlanta had very high, if not the highest ratings for WNBA games when we didn't have a team. The fans are very dedicated. A friend of mine has offered me some season tickets on nights when she can't use hers. I suspect that the season ticket holders in Atlanta do not show up as empty seats. If you don't show up, a friend takes your tickets.
This gives the impression to casual Dream ticket holders that, "Hey, there are an awful lot of people here tonight. This is a happening place to be. I need to show up here more often."
d) Novelty. Hey, we're a new team. Novelty will fade away.
e) Rap. Every now and then, you'll see a rap star sitting in the crowd. Atlanta has a vibrant rap music scene. We have a rap singer performing the halftime show tonight. Ludacris will be in attendance during this game.
f) Community. Atlanta's management seems to not take the audience for granted. Ivory Latta was at a mall recently drumming up support. Ann Strother and Betty Lennox were at local Krogers. When you're smaller, you're hungrier. The players in Atlanta aren't so "big" that they would disdain promotional projects such as these.
g) The Dirty South. We're the only southern WNBA team, so for long road trips, people from the surrounding states will come to Atlanta to see the Dream. You'd think this would make for a small crowd, but remember that we have powerhouse Tennessee one state away...and those Vol fans have to do something for their fix when the Volunteers aren't playing.
Anyway, those are my theories. What are yours?