Here in the city of Philadelphia, our sports teams can boast that they have the most passionate and best fans in the entire country. A lot of that comes from the knowledge our fans are perceived to have. Some of that perception comes from our sheer hatred towards rival teams. But it is entirely possible it comes from one factor: travel.
So what is it that makes Phillies fans (including myself) travel so well? One is summer. No other sport has away games in the summer. I will set out tomorrow to embark on my 4th summer trip in which I will see the Phillies out of town. I’ve been to St. Pete, Chicago, St. Louis, and now Milwaukee to see the Phils. Of course that doesn’t include day trips to New York (both), Baltimore and Washington.
Even outside of seeing the Phillies, when I was growing up, my parents took us to Toronto in which we went to a Blue Jays game, St. Louis, where we saw Mark McGwire in his record year at old Busch along with going to a ton of other stadiums in the past 4 summers like the Great American Ballpark, PNC Park, and now going to US Cellular Field and Comerica Park. Even outside of summer, I’ve been lucky enough to partake in spring training from Clearwater the past 5 years. So the fact that baseball is in the summer (and inherently nicer weather) really helps people travel for their teams more so than sports like football, hockey and basketball, which take place in the fall, winter and spring.
Another idea is the sheer number of baseball games. There are 81 total away games in baseball, half of which revolve around a weekend. In hockey and baseketball there are 41 total away games and only a third of those could be on a weekend. In football you have 8 total away games. Even the casual baseball fan can catch a game or two on the road. The casual Eagles fan might not want to spend all that money to go to an away game, rather spend it down at the Linc.
That brings another point. Money. Money is a huge factor in what events we choose to go to. Look on stub hub right now for Saturday night’s game(the one I’ll be at) in Milwaukee. The cheapest seats are 15 cents. Yes you read that right 15 cents. Not convinced? Let’s go into the future a bit. How about a look at Philly teams vs. those of Washington, DC’s, which is a relatively close drive to do in one day. Let’s look at the Phillies at the Nationals in October. The last series of the regular season, in which the Nationals can lock up their first division crown ever. Tickets are $5, $6, and $8. Now lets look at the Eagles. They are at the Redskins on November 18th. Cheapest seats are $41.75, and they are Standing Room Only seats. How about the Flyers and Capitals? Look to Thursday December 13, and cheapest seats are $58. Unfortunately the Sixers aren’t at the Wizards this year, but for home seats on January 30th, current prices are at $9. It is possible that all of those prices will drop as the events will get closer, but let’s face it, when was the last time you paid under $20 a ticket for a Flyers game?
I consider myself to be a relatively big baseball fan, but that is not to say I’m not a fan of the other sports. I love hockey and football as well. But for the sheer cost and value, it is completely easier to travel for baseball. Not only do you get to travel in nicer weather (no cold!) which lets you explore cities, but you get to spend less money on games, and you could go to possibly more than one game.
As I set out to embark on another journey and crossing off three more stadiums on my list of those to see*, I know that we will be greeted in Milwuakee by hoards of other Phillies faithful. Even though we are on the road, us plus the rest of the fans of the Phillies will make us feel like we are right at home**.
*For fun, here's a list of stadiums I've been to a game for: Citizens Bank Park, Veterans Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, RFK Stadium, Nationals Park, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Tropicana Field, SkyDome (Rogers Center), PNC Park, Great American BallPark, Wrigley Field, Busch Stadium (New), Busch Stadium (old), and by Tuesday now Miller Park, Comerica Park, US Cellular Field.
** Ill provide some live commentary on my trip via twitter, so follow me @jcarullo19!