London Rippers attendance woes not a secret
* London Rippers are averaging 881 fans per game ….
By Devon Teeple
The GM’s Perspective
Controversy kicked off the London Rippers inaugural campaign, the likes we have never seen in Independent ball. Their logo which resembles “Jack the Ripper” caused such a commotion it received press in ESPN and Sports Illustrated.
Everyone was talking about this team from London Ont. with a logo that was so offensive to people, they were on the verge of facing severe and expensive legal battles.
Sometimes we have to sit back and realize that’s it’s just a picture, nothing more, nothing less. Thankfully, everyone came to their senses and Diamond Jack; the frustrated hockey player could grace the hats and uniforms of the players.
Unfortunately, all the hoopla surrounding this team is nearly gone and it shows in the numbers.
The lifespan of an independent league team varies, and it’s not unusual to see indy teams disappear after one or two seasons. It’s also not unusual to see the reigning champion of a league suspend their operations (Edmonton Capitals, North American League 2011).
These teams, which are competing with pro leagues and teams in surrounding cities, have multiple factors that can inhibit success and a non-supportive fan base is one of them.
Sometimes, regardless of results, the fans just aren’t into it. And these difficulties amongst others is nothing new to London; London Werewolves 1999-2001, London Monarchs 2003.
After 23 home games, the Rippers total attendance is 20,272, an average of 881 per game. Compare that to the Gateway Grizzlies; 84,832 or 3,535 per game, and you see a huge gap. Considering that they play in the prestigious Labatt Park which was voted as Canada’s favourite ballpark in a Baseball Canada poll, it really doesn’t make much sense. The 10 games below .500 probably contribute to the matter. But, on the positive side, the fans are seeing some great players on the field.
At the Frontier League all-star game, Rippers first baseman Joash Brodin, who is second in the league with a .367 batting average, won the MVP.
The talent and passion is obviously there, and for a first-year squad you really couldn’t ask for more, but the attendance issue is something that can’t be pushed under the rug.
If attendance doesn’t increase, London could be without a team once again.