Attendance at professional baseball games has declined nearly 30 percent since former Major League Baseball slugger Manny Ramirez left Taiwan on June 21, local media reported.
The EDA Rhinos, with which Ramirez played for three stellar months earlier this year, has seen the biggest drop in attendance, local media reports said, adding that the Rhinos’ home game attendance averaged more than 9,000 in the first three months of this season, but has declined by 46 percent to just more than 4,000 since Ramirez’s departure.
The three other teams in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) have also been affected by the end of the “Manny craze,” recording a 20 percent to 40 percent decrease in average attendance, according to the report.
The falling attendance has also taken a toll on TV ratings, with nearly all sports channels seeing their ratings plunge by 50 percent.
Managers of all four CPBL teams have recently said that they are planning various promotional strategies to boost game attendance.
“We will draw more baseball fans into the stadiums with remarkable games, as well as a wide variety of interesting activities,” a club manager said.
On Friday last week, a total of 4,464 people attended the 148th game of the season, between Brother Elephants and the Lamigo Monkeys, breaking the 1 million mark for overall attendance this season. It was the fastest rise to that mark in the league’s 24-year history.
The previous record was set in 1992, the CPBL’s third year, when attendance broke the 1 million mark in the season’s 151st game.
The image of the sport in Taiwan was tarnished by a series of gambling and game-fixing scandals that emerged in 1997.
The league nearly collapsed last year after the Sinon Bulls pulled out, but E-United Group bought the Bulls and renamed them the EDA Rhinos.