The Brooklyn Cyclones played their final game of the year Thursday, ending a dreadful season. The team was wildly successful on and off the field when it debuted 17 years ago. Now filling thei ballpark is a challenge. NY1 Brooklyn Reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
Fans were still rooting for the Cyclones, even at the end of a dismal season. The team finished dead last in the New York-Penn League with 24 wins and 52 losses, their worst record ever.
"It has been a rough season," one fan said.
"You just try every night, you come out positive," said another, decked out in Cyclones gear.
The Cyclones were an instant sensation in 2001 as Brooklyn's first sports franchise since the beloved Dodgers quit for Los Angeles in 1957. Their new stadium usually sold out.
Selling all 7,000 seats is more challenging for the Mets farm team now.
"It's hard to keep the novelty after 17 years," Cyclones General Manager Steve Cohen said. "We're not new anymore."
This was Brooklyn's third losing season in a row. To attract fans, the team this year staged giveaways and theme nights, such as one dedicated to the sitcom "Seinfeld." The merchandise, playing to the loyalties of Mets and Dodgers fans, is always being updated. And there were $10 tickets on Wednesdays, and games with no ticket fees at all.
But experts say it's tough to remain a draw in a big league city, especialy with 13 minor league teams, like the Staten Island Yankees, all within an hour's drive.
"Minor League Baseball is a challenge everywhere. You're competing with every dollar," sports marketing consultant Joe Favorito said. "You're not just competing with baseball dollars — you're competing with movies, you're competing with Broadway, you're competing with everything else that kids want to do."
On one night in late August, the stands were barely half full. Still, Favorito says the Cyclones are the league's most successful franchise, thanks in part to their seaside location. Fans agree.
"It's more than just about the baseball. The whole atmosphere is just a lot of fun," one supporter said during a game. "It's the beach, it's summertime."
"Enjoy the night, relax after a long day at work, and, you know, hopefully they win," one man said.
The general manager says minor league teams always turn over, so a winning season could be right around the corner.
"These guys may or may not even be here next year; a lot of them move up or get released," Cohen said. "That's the way minor league baseball is."
Or, put another way: Wait 'till next year.
Win or lose, the fans we spoke to said they'll be back:
"It's still our Brooklyn team," one said.