The Richmond Flying Squirrels’ average home attendance held relatively steady during the 2015 season compared to previous years. As usual, the team finished atop the Eastern League and among the top 25 in the minors.
The Squirrels at The Diamond averaged 6,055, which ranked third among all Double-A teams, behind the Frisco (Texas) Roughriders and the Birmingham Barons.
During one of Harrisburg’s visits to The Diamond this year, Senators’ manager Brian Daubach said Richmond had “the best atmosphere” in the Eastern League. There is crowd-provided energy in virtually all EL stadiums on weekends, Daubach said, but Richmond is the only EL ballpark that consistently has that energy during early- and mid-week games, too.
The top average home attendance for the Squirrels, who have completed six seasons, is 6,689 in 2013.
“I think the team is viewed as being extremely well run. They’re getting a lot out of that market despite a ballpark that’s kind of crumbling,” said Kevin Reichard, publisher and editor of BallparkDigest.com, a baseball industry source since 2003.
Reichard added that Chuck Domino, the Squirrels’ chief executive, and Todd Parnell, the team’s vice president/COO/GM “are obviously two of the very well-respected people in all of minor league baseball. I think there’s a sense that the team is outperforming the market in the ballpark as it stands right now.”
The Squirrels began play in 2010 and in average home attendance have ranked among minor league baseball’s top 25 each season.
Though the condition of The Diamond was the reason the Atlanta Braves gave for relocating their Triple-A team in 2009 from Richmond to Gwinnett County, Ga., there has been no suggestion from the Squirrels’ ownership group that it is contemplating a move from Richmond.
“I think that they’re being extremely patient,” said Reichard. “I think that’s a testament to how good the Richmond market really is. Obviously, there’s an affluent audience to be tapped there and I think that a new ballpark will allow them to do that with some group and luxury areas that aren’t present at The Diamond right now.”
According to Parnell, the team conducted a three-hour examination of The Diamond on Sept. 23, looking for ways to improve the fan experience.
“I think our fans are going to be overall really excited about some of the (upgrades), but they’re in their embryonic stages,” Parnell said. “There are definitely a lot of discussions happening as far as us continuing to make changes to the park.
“Our fans can rest assured that for as long as we’re here at The Diamond, we will continue to do things that give them a fresh experience every single year.”