The Front Row with JASON ELLIOTT April 18, 2012

Left with an empty feeling in Seattle

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And at some point, maybe the message will be received.

But for some Seattle Mariner fans, they just might not get it.

FOR THE best day of the spring thus far in Seattle, temperatures in the 60s and the roof open, the crowd for Sunday's Seattle Mariners game against the Oakland Athletics was 19,650.

Down from 21,071 on Saturday and a near sellout of 46,026 for the opening game on Friday.

Most fans turn out for the opener and with Felix Hernandez pitching, chances are more tickets were sold to get the crowd into the stadium.

But without him, fans stayed away those final two days of the series.

Safeco Field holds 47,860, but for a city that's missing an NBA and NHL team, they might want to get behind the teams they've got now.

When the Sonics left for Oklahoma City, the writing was on the wall.

Selling to a guy from Oklahoma that is entertaining the idea of bringing a team back to his state isn't exactly the best way to keep a team around.

I asked one fan just how long they thought it might be until the city had a team, and he said at least two years because he said that KeyArena isn't built for an NBA team.

Funny - when the Sonics were advancing deep into the playoffs in the late 90s and playing in the NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls, the arena seemed perfect at the time.

Then again, when you win - filling an arena doesn't seem as tough as it does when you haven't made it to the playoffs since 2002.

THE MARINERS have tried to bring in some big-name talent to try and build around Hernandez.

So far - it hasn't worked out.

Signing pitchers Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard seemed like great ideas at the time, but with no offense to score runs, Lee was shipped out less than four months into the season, while Bedard was injured a majority of his four years in Seattle.

Who knows, maybe this is the year that Chone Figgins returns to his old form — instead of being one of the biggest disappointments in team history.

At the same time, once the team begins to start losing, some fans quickly lose interest, as was apparent on Sunday afternoon.

Just one hour from first pitch, the stands looked like a ghost town.

Nobody was in the lower sections and fans were just as limited in the upper deck.

One section in particular along the right field line was completely empty, unless you count the flock of seagulls that made a home from the fifth inning on.

PLAYING OAKLAND in seven of the first 11 games this season likely made it a little easier to avoid for some fans, while others just avoided the game because they had something better to do on a spring afternoon.

With this kind of support, it doesn’t surprise me they can’t sign players like Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols.

Players like that deserve to play in front of large crowds.

Not 26,000 empty seats.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at jelliott@cdapress.com.

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