Seattle Mariners: Record Attendance Lows Could Spell Trouble for the Team

Mike UlstadContributor IIIMay 7, 2012

Kyle Seager has been a major bright spot for the Mariners so far in 2012.
Kyle Seager has been a major bright spot for the Mariners so far in 2012.Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

On April 18th, Safeco Field hit a new attendance low, only drawing 11,343 fans to a game against the Cleveland Indians.

Once a team known for having some of the best fans in baseball, the Mariners have seen Safeco Field nearly empty on more than one occasion this season.

And it doesn't seem like it's going to get much better any time soon, especially with a struggling team on the field.

Since 2007, the Mariners have drawn less fans every year than the previous year. Quite a disturbing trend, which led to a dismal 23,411 per game last season. To put that in perspective for you, the Mariners averaged 43,302 in 2001, 43,709 in 2002, 40,351 in 2003. Even in 2005, a year that Seattle lost over 90 games for the second straight season, the Mariners brought in over 30,000 fans per game.

Sure, we can blame the economy for part of this negative trend we've seen in the past five years, but to be realistic, Mariner baseball just simply has not been fun to watch.

That's why the next month of this 2012 season is so important. It will most likely decide whether or not Seattle can hang around .500 and at least play interesting baseball, or if they will spiral downward to another atrocious season.

The Mariners are nowhere near ready to take the AL West. Not a chance with Texas in their prime and the Angels with Albert Pujols (who will surely get going). But in two years, this young Mariner team looks like it could most definitely make a run at a division title.

Mariners Ace Felix Hernandez
Mariners Ace Felix HernandezGregory Shamus/Getty Images

They can't continue to drive away fans, though, with another 90-plus-loss season. They need to remain somewhat competitive this season and work toward rebuilding a fanbase that has all but abandoned this team in favor of the Sounders and every NBA team that is playing against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

With young and talented players such as Kyle Seager, Mike Carp, Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley, the Mariner's future at the plate looks promising. Add in the pitching of Felix Hernandez and the future "Big 3" coming up through the minors in Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, and you have a team that, on paper, should compete.

And they should be fun to watch. All that needs to happen this season is for the Mariners to compete and keep things exciting before they are ready to take the division by storm in two years.