I assume that for minor league baseball games, it's not what is happening on the field that matters. It's the experience elsewhere within the stadium that attracts fans.
I suppose that some minor league baseball fans intently watch the play on the field and care about who wins. But I'm guessing that many fans simply enjoy an evening or afternoon out with family and friends, and the new stadium provides a much nicer venue than the old stadium.
The new stadium provides better views of the field, more comfortable seating, and nicer amenities. Sometimes new and shiny wins out. And having numerous restaurants and bars around the new stadium is a bonus to baseball patrons.
The marketing and public relations related to the Hens seems much different today, compared to 20 years ago. Even the old stadium may have attracted a few more fans if the team and experience were promoted like it is today.
Regarding the pay for minor league baseball players, I heard this NPR story earlier this month that said on average, minor league baseball players earn less than the U.S. minimum wage.
The average annual salary across all minor league levels is $7,500. The average annual salary for the Majors is $4.4 million. That's motivation for trying hard in the minors.
Major League Baseball said the federal minimum wage does not apply to minor league players because those players are considered to be short-term, seasonal apprentices. Most minor league players sign a standard seven-year contract.
I don't know if minor league pay was relatively worse 20 to 30 years ago.
Dozens of minor league baseball players contend they aren't paid enough. Their class action lawsuit against Major League Baseball is entering its third year with little change on or off the diamond.
Minor League Baseball has never been a big money maker. Most players at this level don't even earn minimum wage.
In five Minor League seasons, pitcher Tyler DeLoach racked up 457 strikeouts. The 6-foot-6-inch lefthander was good enough to get to Triple-A, one level away from the promised land, the majors. But last year at age 25, he quit the game.
His wage and salary form said he made between $14,000 and $15,000 for a season of playing pro ball.
His dad, who'd been a financial safety net, got sick and died. It forced DeLoach to take stock. Last season in Triple-A, he made 2,200 a month before taxes.
Just one step up the ladder in the majors, the lowest paid players made 42,000 a month.
After paying rent, student loans, car payment, clubhouse dues, food, gas cellphone, DeLoach hoped to break even. And like all minor leaguers, he got paid only during the season from April to September - no pay for spring training.
But here's the thing about Tyler DeLoach. He was better off than most minor leaguers.
The average Minor League Baseball player is getting around $7,500 [a year] or less.
Attorney Garrett Broshuis says that figure includes all levels of Minor League Baseball, and it's about half of what a full-time minimum-wage worker in the U.S. makes.
MLB pays Minor League salaries, and Broshuis wants minor leaguers bumped up at least to full-time minimum-wage pay.
BROSHUIS: This is a $10 billion industry that has seen just revenue grow exponentially in recent years. And so they can certainly afford to pay these guys $15,000 per year.
If each team paid that amount to its roughly 250 minor leaguers, it would cost about $3.75 million. That's a year's salary for one Major League player not quite making the average of 4.4 million. Major League Baseball can afford it but doesn't think it should have to.
MLB responded to an interview request by emailing a statement. It says, federal guarantees of minimum wage and overtime pay don't apply to Minor League players. The majority of those players, says MLB, are short-term, seasonal apprentices.
But minor leaguers typically sign a standard seven-year contract, and they work 50 to 60 hours a week at spring training and work during the off season on baseball skills and fitness all for no pay.
There's no Minor League players union. Garrett Broshuis would love to see one in the future. For now, he's focused on the lawsuit which includes several thousand minor leaguers.