Braves Cancel Fireworks, Lose Fans, Model Bad PR

Last night thunderstorms rolled in and delayed the Atlanta Braves game by several hours. That happens. I mean it’s not like AOL Time Warner can control the weather. But what the folks in the Braves administration offices can control is how they treat their fans.

This year the Braves are in a dogfight to maybe win a Wild Card birth. For a team that’s been winning (regular season) for nigh onto forever now, it’s an unfamiliar place to say the least. It’s hurting the fan base, as attendance continues to dwindle. By “attendance” I refer to butts in the seats–those buying beer and other assorted goodies–not the reported stat of “paid to see it.” Seriously, tune in and see how many empty GOOD seats there are.

Most of the fans waited around, myself included, for that first hour. But as the rains continued, and without announcements from the team, the crowd started to thin. By 10:30 p.m. I’d guess maybe as many as half the crowd had left. We had slipped into the much drier Lexus level by then, to warm up and to better hear any announcements.

The first one we heard was just after 11 p.m., announcing the probable restarting time of 11:35. Nothing was mentioned about the scheduled Fourth of July fireworks show. At 11:30 as play was about to resume, the PA announcer said that due to local noise ordinances, the show would be rescheduled for the next night. Weather permitting, natch.

According to the AJC, the fans booed that decision. Booed meaning “got up, left the stadium, and probably won’t come back.” My issue is not the cancellation of the show due to the laws. It’s how badly management handled it.

Clearly the powers that be knew about the noise ordinances. In this case, the laws of both Fulton County (Section 46-137) and the City of Atlanta apply. So all one had to do was do some backwards math – fireworks must end by X time, the game will take Y time to finish, and so on, to determine by what time the game would have to resume in order to have the show. Therefore:

They knew there would be no fireworks when they made that 11:00 p.m. announcement. What’s worse, with a couple innings left to play and it still raining at 10:00 p.m., they knew the game would not resume and finish in time for the fireworks show. Yet no announcement was made.

Waiting around until the last minute to make an announcement that should have come at least an hour (if not more) earlier was an inconsiderate, fan-base killing move on the part of management and an excellent example of some bad public relations.

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