With the Syracuse Chiefs (Class AAA; International League) posting a losing record and failing to attract large crowds to NBT Bank Stadium, there’s some dissatisfaction with baseball in the city.
Post-Standard columnist Bud Poliquin lays out an indictment of how the Chiefs are run. Some of his complaints, having to do with the quality of play, has nothing to do with the Chiefs and can be laid at the feet of parent Washington Nationals. Yes, it’s all about development, and while the Chiefs had some decent players — shortstop Zach Walters had a great year — a record of 66-78 isn’t going to excite anyone. That was shown at the box office, where the team finished 12th in International League attendance.
The larger issue is the survival of baseball in the city. Now, a reported attendance of 345,047 will keep most teams in the black, even if the actual number in the stands was lower. We’re not talking huge market here — Syracuse’s MSA population at 662,577 is much lower than neighboring Buffalo or Rochester — but we’re still talking a International League market. To suggest that the future of the team is in doubt, as Poliquin asserts, is perhaps a little dramatic:
In these parts, the national pastime sits on the precipice. And those who run these community-owned Chiefs — the Syracuse organization’s four officers … the members of its board of directors … the Simones, Tex and John — had better figure out a way to pull it back.
Boldly, for sure. Dramatically, if need be. Beyond normal convention.
Before it’s too late.
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