HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY (FOX19) - While the Cincinnati Reds 2010 National League Central Division Championship may have come as a surprise to a majority of Cincinnatians, according to the eighth annual Northern Kentucky University Cincinnati Entertainment Survey, optimism in the city has been building since the team changed ownership in 2006.
The survey, conducted in March before the 2010 Major League Baseball season began, asked if respondents believed the Reds would make the playoffs this season. Only 13 percent of respondents agreed that would happen, and only 2 percent strongly agreed.
"It probably comes as little surprise that Reds fans were not overly optimistic about 2010 heading into the season," said Dr. Aron Levin, associate professor of marketing and director of the NKU Marketing Research Partnership Program. "Coming off a 78-84 record and nine straight losing seasons, there frankly wasn't much reason to expect this to be a breakthrough year."
But a closer look at the survey's results through the years shows that while most didn't feel the Reds would make the playoffs this season, the acquisition of the Cincinnati Reds franchise by owner Robert Castellini five years ago did give fans a sense of renewed optimism.
In 2006 – the year Castellini became president and CEO of the club – nearly 70 percent of survey respondents felt the Reds would win about the same number or more games than the year before. That season, the Reds finished 80-82, just 3.5 games behind the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
That same year, when asked what impact the new ownership group would have on the team's success in future seasons, 46 percent of respondents felt the team would win more games in the future, with one in five saying the team's success would dramatically increase. Only five percent felt the team's success would decrease.
"When you look at the survey results over the past five years, it is clear that while fans may not have seen this season coming, they did expect big things from the team at some point," Dr. Levin said. "Survey respondents predicted more wins under the new ownership group, more fan support and higher attendance."
And coming off an AFC North Championship, one might expect the city to be suffering from Bengal fever. The survey suggests otherwise. Fifty-three percent of respondents identified Cincinnati as a "baseball town" this year, compared to 46 percent three years ago. At that time, 38 percent identified Cincinnati as a "football town," but only 30 percent did this year.
"I think when you look at the results over the course of the last five years, you see a budding enthusiasm and optimism over the Cincinnati Reds," Dr. Levin said. "I guess it should come as no surprise the Reds finished in a tie for the most popular local attraction in this year's survey."