Behind lefty ace Madison Bumgarner’s magnificent five innings of relief work, the San Francisco Giants hoisted a World Series trophy for the third time in the last five seasons in Wednesday’s Game 7 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Once again, the Giants became the toast of the Bay Area, further solidifying their status as the premier team in the region.
When it comes to winning championships, San Francisco has only had the Giants to rely on from the four major team sports. Prior to the Giants' World Series title in 2010, no San Francisco team had won a championship since the 49ers won the Super Bowl in 1995. The pandamonium that poured into Civic Center Plaza on Wednesday night may have prompted suggestions around the country that San Francisco only has become a baseball town due to their recent stretch of success, but a look at attendance figures proves otherwise.
Win or lose, San Francisco has supported the Giants. In 2003, the Giants finished with their best regular season record since 1993, and drew 3.2 million in attendance. Four years later, the Giants finished with their worst record since 1996, but still drew 3.2 million to AT&T Park.
Over the last 11 seasons, the Giants have ranked no lower than 11th in average home attendance, despite missing the playoffs eight times. When they claimed their first title in 56 years in 2010, the Giants were ninth in the Majors in average attendance, but were then third for three straight seasons and fourth this season.
Such consistency at the turnstiles isn't apparent from Bay Area fans for the NBA, NHL and NFL.
Over the past two seasons, the Warriors have emerged as one of the top contenders in the Western Conference, but only recently has the organization seen an uptick in attendance at Oracle Arena. Prior to the 2013-2014 season, the Warriors routinely finished between 10th and 22nd in overall attendance, aside from finishing No. 6 in 2007-2008 and No. 9 in 2008-2009. When it comes to percentage of the arena filled, the Warriors only once finished better than 12th between 2003-2004 and 2012-2013. Those are rather low numbers for one of the largest media markets in the country.
The 49ers, who’ve made three straight NFC Championship appearances and reached the Super Bowl in 2013, haven’t enjoyed the same kind of consistent outpouring from San Francisco fans during winning campaigns. Last season, the 49ers won 12 games, half of which were at home, and yet they were 15th in the NFL in average attendance. In the 2012 regular season, when they would go on to reach the Super Bowl, the Niners were 13th, and in 2011 they were 10th.
Winning also hasn't helped the Sharks at the SAP Center turnstiles. The consistently successful hockey team has made the playoffs every year since 2004, but since 2006, they have never finished higher than 14th in average attendance.
So how have the Giants outlasted all other teams in the Bay Area with a consistent draw? The answer likely lies with their stadium. Fans couldn’t wait for the closing of Candlestick Park following the 1999 season. Nestled by the bay, the multipurpose stadium was often regarded as a terrible venue to watch baseball, with cold winds and fog coming off the water even during the summer. The Giants only managed to break past the two million total fan mark twice in the 1990s. Since the opening of then-named Pacific Bell Park in 2000, a stadium designed solely for baseball, the Giants have consistently blown past the three million total-attendance mark.