DeSantis claimed Dodgers stadium was ‘virtually empty’ after Pride backlash. The game actually sold more tickets than normal.

DeSantis claimed Dodgers stadium was ‘virtually empty’ after Pride backlash. The game actually sold more tickets than normal.

By: Posted: June 23, 2023

The Los Angeles Dodgers pride hat.
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Pride hat.

  • The LA Dodgers’ LGBTQ Pride Night turned controversial when an activist group that offended the religious right was invited.
  • Conservatives touted a video of a nearly empty stadium as a win, crediting it to a boycott.
  • Though MLB tracks attendance only in terms of tickets bought, photos show bodies in seats.

Conservatives appear gleeful that they may have just scored another culture-war win — this time through Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers.

But their claim to have successfully boycotted a Dodgers game for its LGBTQ Pride participation and guests — notably echoed by the presidential candidate Ron DeSantis — appear to be false based on ticket sales and photos from the game.

Leading up to the team’s 10th annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night, the Dodgers disinvited and then reinvited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a nonprofit “order of queer and trans nuns,” which some religious conservatives found to be offensive to Christianity and Catholicism.

“We have asked the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to take their place on the field at our 10th annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night on June 16th,” the team said in its reinvitation statement shared on Twitter. “We are pleased to share that they have agreed to receive the gratitude of our collective communities for the lifesaving work that they have done tirelessly for decades.”

While the satirical group was given a community activism award at Dodgers stadium prior to the game on Friday, religious groups protested outside the stadium and briefly shut down the main entrance, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who recently launched his 2024 presidential bid, tweeted in support of the protesters and claimed the stadium was “virtually empty.” Some critics of the event circulated photos and videos, which were reportedly taken before the opening pitch, of a near-empty stadium.

“The virtually empty stadium for the game itself was a powerful image,” DeSantis said in his tweet. “Americans are fed up with the nonsense and are fighting back.”

Notably, the number of people who bought tickets to the Pride event surpassed the average attendance to games this season. According to data kept by ESPN, the average attendance to each game has been 48,024.

Photos from the ballgame also show bodies in seats in the stadium.

“Our paid attendance on Friday night was 49,074,” Joe Jareck, senior director of public relations for the Dodgers, told Insider in a comment.

Jareck declined to answer Insider’s other questions about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the protesters. 

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — which hosts events for queer youths and adults and pays out grants to small community organizations that cater to marginalized people — shared a statement saying the invitation ordeal came with a “silver lining.”

“Our group has been strengthened, protected and uplifted to a position where we may now offer our message of hope and joy to far more people than before. With great love and respect, we thank each person and each organization that have spoken up for us,” the group said in a statement on their website. 

Correction: June 21, 2023 — An earlier version of this article did not accurately describe the attendance at Dodgers’ Pride Night. More tickets were sold to the game than average, according to the Dodgers, but that data doesn’t reflect in-person attendance.

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