The departure of Matt Kemp to the Padres during the Winter Meetings was a hard pill for Dodger fans to swallow. Kemp was one of the most beloved Dodger players, especially when he was healthy. So his moving down to San Diego will create some heartache for fans at Dodger Stadium. Even though the Kemp trade was not a surprise, most fans chose to look the other way or direct the rumors towards another outfielder on the Dodgers trade block. Even though Matt Kemp’s health and ability has not been all that great the past couple years, fans still cheered hard for him at games that he played in. He has always been a big impact of ticket sales because of people coming to the game to see him play.
The main drivers for raising ticket sales in baseball usually are having a baseball city throughout history (like St. Louis), a team stacked with all-stars (Yankees), or having a front office that is able to appeal to the community (Dodgers). But throughout the history of sports, it seems that having great stars on the team is what drives revenue the most, since sports were created anyway to entertain people with great athletes who put on terrific shows. Matt Kemp was one of those athletes for the Dodgers from 2006-2014.
What makes the trade to the Padres the hardest, is that Kemp, in 2014, was basically back to his 2011 runner-up MVP form, as he played a terrific 150 games. Due to his great health and play in 2014, Kemp helped the Dodgers once again to lead the MLB in attendance. Within the 78 home games that Matt Kemp played in, the average attendance was 47095.54/game compared to the average attendance when he did not play, which was 46846.23/game. Also the Dodgers had a total of 3 promotional nights for Matt Kemp, compared to all the other players who got one or none. Speaking of promotions, Matt Kemp’s photo could be seen around the stadium in several places, including the huge posters outside the venue. Now with those ticket seller promotions gone, the Dodgers will have to look to their other star players to help drive the so-called “Matt Kemp” revenue.
Overall though, the departure of a beloved player to a rival team is going to anger some fans because Matt Kemp was arguably the most popular player next to Yasiel puig. But, since the Dodgers have always been one of the top ticket selling teams, the revenue should not drop much at all. In the end though, ticket sales are heavily dependent on how well the team is doing. So the question for 2015 is: can the Dodgers promote their other stars enough to mum the angry Kemp fans, if not, can the Dodgers make it deep enough into the playoffs without Kemp in order to make additional sales to increase revenue?