This season will be the last for the Kitsap BlueJackets in the West Coast League (WCL), as attendance and revenue problems have forced the team’s exit.
It was widely known that BlueJackets owner Matt Acker was looking to place a WCL team in Port Angeles, WA, where Civic Field is being dangled as a potential summer collegiate facility. While that move is going forward, Acker does have some plans in Kitsap.
Starting next season, Kitsap will be have an entry in the Pacific International League, which Acker feels is a better fit for the market. The reason that there will no longer be WCL baseball in Kitsap has to do with revenue problems the team has experienced in recent years. More from the Kitsap Sun:
“It would be really easy for me to just move my team to PA and call it a day,” Acker said. “… I don’t want to lose money anymore, but the decision to keep the team there is not 100 percent business. It’s being thoughtful and caring about the people that have touched my life in my time in Kitsap.”
Acker said he’s lost “tens of thousands of dollars” since he purchased a controlling stake of the team in 2014.
Attendance has been a problem for the BlueJackets since the recession in 2008, said Rick Smith, a member of the team’s original ownership group. He said Gene Lobe Field was routinely filled during Kitsap’s first three or four years.
When it comes to putting fans in seats, the team has finished last in the 11-team WCL for five straight years. In 2015, Kitsap finished 107 out of 154 summer collegiate teams in attendance, according to website Ballpark Digest. The team is averaging a league-low 170 fans per home game this season. By comparison, Gresham, which ranks 10th in WCL attendance, averages 360 fans per home game. Seven WCL teams boast home attendance figures of over 1,000 per game.
Kitsap will be replacing the Trail Orioles in the Pacific International League. The BlueJackets’ final WCL games are set for this week.