(c) Sheldon Pincus

(c) Sheldon Pincus

Every year since 2011, the Brooklyn Cyclones attendance has dropped significantly. While they remain at the top of the New York-Penn League in attendance, games are noticeably emptier than they once were. Jersday Thursdays were once a standing room only crowd, but cannot sell out anymore.

Fans who stopped coming have given multiple reasons. Some mention the quality of play, others say the novelty has worn off. Some list various irritants that should be addressed.

Over the next few weeks I am going to point out a few things the Brooklyn Cyclones front office needs to improve on to increase attendance. We discuss this week the often discussed issue of Food.

To paraphrase Jimmy McMillan “The Price of Food at MCU Park, is too damn high.”

This might shock some people, but some Minor League Baseball teams don’t actually charge anywhere near $5 for a cup of soda. Tri-City sells large sodas for $3. Hudson Valley charges only $3 for popcorn.

A good example of how affordable concessions can be is the Sussex County Miners. I went up to a game at the former home of the NJ Cardinals on what happened to be $2 Hot Dog, Soda & Beer Night. Right next was a family of four. A one point, the father went to get food and when he returned, I noticed he had 8 hot dogs, 3 sodas & a beer, which means he spent $24 total. Tickets were $10 for seats behind the plate, above the concourse, so $40 for tickets and another $24 on food mean $64 for a family of four or $16 a person. No family can eat like that at MCU Park for that cheap. A group of four can barely enter MCU Park for $16 a person.

Like I pointed out with the tickets, they would make more money selling on volume.

The front office need to have more promos that are food based, such as having Dollar Hot Dog Night more than twice a decade. I know Aramark runs the concessions, but other Aramark ballparks do specials for each game. The front office has to do something about it. The excuse that “Aramark makes the calls” is total garbage. Someone from another team with Aramark as the concession operator said that they have it in the contract for more food promos. The Cyclones need to re-look that contract.

For all the money we Brooklyn Cyclones fans are forced to pay, the service is just awful. Lines are horrific whenever it is a crowded night. Aramark management never seems to prepare the staff for a big crowd.

Then, once we spend a ton of money (usually cash instead of plastic) to get our food, it is AWFUL. I myself have bought soft pretzels from the main stands that are nothing short of hard. I’ve heard how chicken tenders have been served cold, fries are over-salted, hot dogs have caused upset stomachs and more. The amount of complaints one can find on the Cyclones Facebook Page, in the REAL BKLYN CYCLONES FANS Group and in various ballpark reviews can attest to the prison-like quality of food at MCU Park.

And yet somehow, Aramark never has such problems at Citi Field. Whenever I have bought something, or have seen friends of mine purchase, they never encounter the issues they have at MCU Park.

THE CYCLONES MUST FIX THIS. With 7+ months until opening night, they have plenty of time to work on these issues.

Another issue that has affected MCU Park is the amount of non-Aramark options have dwindled over the past few seasons. From Pig Guy NYC, to the Cy-Cone, outside vendors have dropped and there is less option each season.

A few years ago, I reached out to one of the former Kosher vendors of MCU Park and he explained to me why he did not return after just one season. He was more than willing to go on record and explain why he only lasted a season:

For starters, the Brooklyn Cyclones and Aramark make you pay a high price for a portable stand on the concourse. The team tries to convince vendors to make this investment based on their league high attendance. The contract gets vendors all 38 games, playoffs and a few other events. However, being the Kosher Stand, I lose about 14 games due to Shabbat, over a 3rd of the season.

To my annoyance, Aramark set my prices very high and took a good chunk of the profits. I was not permitted to make a special pricing or Meal Deal to boost my sales. It was all under their control.

As the season progressed, I noticed those attendance numbers I had been sold on were seldom true. The team itself struggled, which hurt attendance and my profits. I had so many instances of leftovers that season. The only way I made money was on Jewish Heritage Night or when a suite required me to cater food and dropped a few hundred dollars my way.

When it came time to make a decision for the [following] season, I tried to renegotiate my contract, but I realized it wasn’t worth it and left.

This is another issue the Cyclones have to work on. Either they need to get Aramark to up it’s game or find a way to get a new vendor.


About Daniel S. Weiss

I have been an avid Cyclones fan since 2001. In December of 2013 I decided to launch my own blog "Brooklyn Baseball Banter" to cover the Brooklyn Cyclones.

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