With their star suspended for the rest of the 2013 season and the team languishing in last place, the Milwaukee Brewers went looking for a way to say 'We're sorry' to their fans.
What they found was undoubtedly the best way to apologize: Free food and drinks.
To be more specific, each fan who spins the Miller Park turnstiles during the month of August will receive a $10 voucher that can be used at the stadium's concession stands. With 12 home dates in August and an average expected attendance of 30,000, that's a roughly $3.6 million hit the Brewers are taking with this "Fans First" promotion— or more than the $3.1 million they would have had to pay Ryan Braun had he not been suspended for 65 games after getting caught up in the Biogenesis scandal.
In taking this action, the Brewers have touched upon an existential truth in the fair state of Wisconsin: Nothing says "you're loved and appreciated" like free bratwurst and beer.
“This has been a challenging season for all of us, but the one thing that has never wavered has been the tremendous support we have received from fans who love the Brewers,” [team owner Mark] Attanasio said. “We wanted to do something meaningful to show our appreciation, and we will strive to provide the best fan experience possible.”
... Vouchers may be combined (meaning that fans attending with friends and family members, or those attending multiple games, can combine the vouchers for larger purchases) and used at any remaining 2013 home game. The vouchers can also be used toward the purchase of game tickets this season.
The Brewers say this is only the first in a series of promotions they'll be doing as their 43-61 squad plays out the string from the basement of the NL Central. It's not surprising, either, as the team has done similar things in the past. The last game of the 2005 season was free to everyone while none other than Braun and reliever John Axford gave away 5,000 free tickets to fans for the finale of the 2012 season.
By consistently showing the fans that their support is valued, even in times of great disappointment, the Brewers are writing the manual on how to attract fans despite playing in the league's smallest market. They've topped 2.75 million fans each of the past six years (including passing the three million mark in three of them) and are on pace to draw over 2.5 million this year despite being on track for a 96-loss season.