Calling Planet Orange: Suns deserve better fan support

Posted by on February 7th, 1:56 pm

Where has Planet Orange gone?

Going to Tuesday night’s Phoenix Suns game as a fan, I had the expectation of a fairly big crowd to be on hand. I wasn’t expecting a packed house because the Suns haven’t had one of those all year, but I figured there would be more support than usual.

After all, it was Eric Bledsoe bobblehead night. The Suns-friendly neighbors across the street at Chase Field would tell you their biggest attractions to the ballpark are when they have bobblehead giveaway nights.

The Arizona Diamondbacks averaged a little more than 26,000 fans per game last year, but they drew more than 42,000 on Paul Goldschmidt bobblehead night against the New York Mets. Forty-two thousand people are not showing up to see the Mets, either.

For some reason, those bouncy-headed figurines are a big hit in this city, but the hysteria has yet to catch on with Suns fans.

The numbers say the Suns had 16,636 people at the Tuesday game against Chicago, but there were many who dressed up as empty seats and an even bigger amount that had on Chicago Bulls jerseys, which made it seem like the Suns were plyaing on a neutral court at times. Forward Marcus Morris even tweeted after the game wondering if he was in Phoenix or Chicago.

 

“It wasn’t frustration,” Morris said of the tweet. “We thought we were the home team, so we felt like we need the fan support to be a little bit better. Not cheering when the other team scores.”

Just imagine how bad that noise could have been had Derrick Rose been playing? A crowd of red jerseys swelled around the visitor tunnel prior to the game. Bulls fans outnumbered Suns fans a half hour before the game began, when Derrick Rose went through an individual workout on the court.

The Suns (29-20) entered the Tuesday’s game on a league-best five-game winning streak, and had won eight of their last 11 games. They have dropped two straight games, including the Chicago defeat, but still currently sit in the seventh spot in the Western Conference, just three and a half games behind the Los Angeles Clippers atop the Pacific Division.

You would think that the city would start getting behind a team that is exciting to watch and fighting for a division title, but it is not showing in the seats at US Airways Center.

“We are a good team and exciting to watch, and just want our support to be a little better,” Morris said.

I understand the people that are still in a wait-and-see approach due to the lack of trust for Robert Sarver, but the funny thing is that he has quietly done some things that have put the team in the position they are in. He admitted to Grantland.com’s Jonathan Abrams some of his mistakes, especially holding onto the past too long, and he boldly extinguished one mistakes by firing general Lance Blanks this summer. He was the guy that pushed hard for the team to sign Goran Dragic over Raymond Felton last summer.

Imagine where this team would be if he didn’t step in and make that move?

The Suns are currently 24th in the NBA in percent of stadium filled at 81.1%, behind teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz and even the Orlando Magic, according to ESPN.com. That number should go up in the near future with big draws like the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics coming to town.

But some of those fans are coming to see the other team play. When will Phoenix fans start showing up to see the Suns play? When will U.S. Airways start rocking again?

Hopefully before April.

Jeffrey Sanders

Jeffrey Sanders is a ValleyoftheSuns staff writer currently working toward his degree in broadcast journalism at Arizona State University. He is also involved in on-campus groups, such as the Blaze 1330 AM and CronkiteSports.com.

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Tags: Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns News

17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Curt // Feb 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Speaking of Dragic, as expected, the new Commish names Anthony Davis in place of Kobe for ASG. Very politically correct for the home hosting ASG. Better luck next year Gogi. Last year, Stephen Curry was the big snub, and now he is in as an All Star. Take it out on the court tomorrow against Curry and GS, Goran! Show Silver what a mistake he’s made.

  • 2 mike // Feb 7, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Good read and I couldn’t agree more. I live in ct and have watched 20+ games.

  • 3 sunsn7 // Feb 7, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    You sound genuinely surprised? I’ve been criticizing our home crowd for years. Even during the Nash/ Amare/ Marion run our crowd often sat on their hands. Quite frankly I used to dub the former USAC “The Library” or “The Morgue”

    Game 5 of the 2005 WCF against Dallas comes to mind. Tied at 2 I fully expected the Suns to put a stranglehold on the series with the help of a raucous Suns crowd..but nope. It was as disappointing as the loss itself, the lack of passion from Suns fans especially given the situation.

    Suns fans were at their best at the old Madhouse on McDowell and during the Barkley/ KJ/ Majerle era….

  • 4 Luka // Feb 7, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Retirees, Midwesterners, east coasters, Californians, and lots of fair weather fans who are pissed to the point of no return by poor management.

    Even us fans who follow the team regularly are cynical. Will Sarver really spend the money when the times right?

  • 5 Foreveris2long // Feb 7, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I admit I have only seen the Suns live this season when they played in Los Angeles. However I admit when watching their telecast it was surprising to see a number of empty expensive seats at various home games. For our attendance to be behind the Orlando Magic is embarrassing to say the least. How can the Suns get or keep free agents when the home crowd gets punked by intruders? I have been to a number of games in Phoenix and yes the fans are a little reserved but it seems during the winning years they had pretty good numbers.

    Just my two cents worth but this is a good team to support because they are young, hungry, talented and very promising. They are still in playoff contention with one of their better players hurt. Better days are coming Planet Orange, trust McD and Coach Horny. Show the team some love.

  • 6 sunsn7 // Feb 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    “Suns fans??…

    …ON YOUR FEET!”

  • 7 TNA // Feb 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Have you ever been to a D-backs Cubs game? It’s the same thing. Phoenix has a large population of people who have moved here and support their old team. Phoenix is still considered a “newer” city and just does not have the same die hard fans as many other cities. Plus we have no star power (arguably). No marquee name to draw in fans. When Nash was here, people would come just for him. I bet many people don’t even realize the Suns are actually playing well above their terrible preseason projections.

    I’m a Phoenix native and even I will admit that Arizona has extremely fair weather fans.

  • 8 Ellensburgbballfan // Feb 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    I live in Mesa AZ for 20 years before moving to Ellensburg, WA

    i saw a few Suns games in my 20 years as a arizona resident

    So why didnt i go to more?

    money

    I may have moved to another state, but i still sit below the poverty line

    i had NBA League Pass for a few weeks but i cancelled it

    for one thing i could only watch games on the road, which was BS

    plus 28 a month is way too expensive

    so now i listen to games on ESPN

    hell the Suns arent even on KTAR anymore

    but yeah the team may be doing OK now, but we havent made the playoffs in years, we dont develop our own players, and we have an ownership that, while doing a much much better job recently, still wants to make the playoffs this season

    Which makes no sense on a long term team success level

    i would go to a game if the tickets were reasonable, and the Suns have to start developing their young players, its been over 10 years since we drafted Stoudemire, the last guy who the Suns drafted to become an all star without playing on another team

    you cant expect fans to show up unless they have either a superstar, a very good team, or they have a young exciting team

    I think the Suns are young and exciting, but ownership is just now rebuilding

    we spent the last 4 seasons spinning our wheels in mediocrity

    so thats what you get for a crowd at home

  • 9 Dave:f32 // Feb 7, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Rob a rob a robbbbbbert Sssssaarrrver

  • 10 Lloyd I. Cadle // Feb 7, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Suns have usually been a well supported team. Attendance is lagging a little bit, but it won’t be too long and you’ll once again see 100 straight sell outs.

  • 11 hawki // Feb 8, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Over 189, 000 people attended the Phoenix Open last Saturday out in N Scottsdale.

    That is staggering…more than 10 straight Suns sellouts crammed into one afternoon.

    I could wax political, or even philosophical, but I’ll keep it short & just say the Phoenix Sports Scene is rather unique.

    ps….Long Live the Madhouse on McDowell !

  • 12 VK1 // Feb 8, 2014 at 2:40 am

    @ Ellensburgbballfan

    I think you are exactly right!!! Tickets, plus parking, plus food…it makes for an expensive night for the family or guys going to catch the game.

  • 13 Melon Man // Feb 8, 2014 at 4:16 am

    March 2 will be my 3rd game this year. For myself its mostly about their schedule and mine conflicting but pricing plays a part too. That being said, at the beginning of the season I sat a whole family of 4 in the lower bowl, decent seats for $72 thanks to a predicted horrible season and a ticket reseller that hadn’t yet repriced based on how the team was playing. I’m pretty sure that’s a rare occurence for any team in the league on a weekend night. Hopefully they can keep it up and make me drop some coin on playoff tix.

    That aside I’m always the quiet fan, until I have enough beers in me, as I kinda like to “study the game.”

  • 14 foreveris2long // Feb 8, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Hawki, I have been to the Phoenix Open a few times and what a great time. Why those fans do not go indoors this season is a mystery but hopefully it will be solved soon.

  • 15 BCrayZ // Feb 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Jeff -

    Good question.

    Here is the answer. Free up at least one roster spot. Then take free agent Louis back. Just like we took back The Blur. Give out bobble hoods of Louis & the fans will come. Have him play with the passion & intensity that he is known for & U.S. Airways center will rock. Gogi & LB & Frye will be so excited that each will play an even more inspired game. Make it so Ryan.

    MUST reunite “that killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • 16 Michael Monroy Diaz // Feb 9, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    My true honest opinion on why the phoenix suns lack fans has to do with the state being such a racist state , many of the hispanic community have boycotted such arenas like these also diamondbacks games there is no point on waisting our hard earn money to contribute into these sports when you have governors and sheriffs attacking the hispanic community , such as brewer and mr sheriff joe arpaio , they are part of the reason why sports like these get affected , I know I personally have avoided going ti any of these I feel bad for the players , it looks like theyve really worked hard to put a good young athletic team and change the face of phoenix , but unfortunately they are playing for such a racist state , where the community is pretty much at fight with its governors , and strict laws , sb1070 etc., just my opinion ….

  • 17 john // Feb 10, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I’ll try to avoid falling head first for the race bait, but you’re way off point and out of line, Michael Monroy Diaz.

    1. Even if the entire Hispanic community (which has nothing to do with SB1070, btw) had decided to boycott Suns games (which isn’t true, as I see plenty of Mexicans at Suns games), there are still plenty of every other race of people in Phoenix to fill up the seats. There are 4.5 million people in this metro. Pretty sure they could fill up an 18,000 seat arena with or without the help of the Hispanic community.

    2. No governor or sheriff is attacking the rights of anyone, and they’re not targeting any specific group of people. The reason you think Hispanics are being targeted is because there are a lot more illegal Mexicans in AZ than there are illegal Chechens or illegal Egyptians or illegal Russians or illegal Koreans.

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