MLB Attendance Figures to be a problem for most

August 06, 2009 |

As the baseball season reaches the 108 game mark, I was wondering how the economy has affected people going to the ballpark. Obviously here in Baltimore, on any given night except when the Red Sox or Yankees are in town, there are an awful lot of people dressed as forest green seats. So, I took the time to break down every major league team’s attendance, and compared it to 2008. Through roughly 53 home dates per team, here are some interesting findings.

* All total figures do not include the attendance figures for both New York teams. Both the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, have a much smaller seating capacity than Shea Stadium or the “old” Yankee Stadium.

There are 5 teams in the American League that have shown an increase in attendance. They are: Boston, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Minnesota, and Texas.

Why are these teams ahead of last year’s pace? Well, in my mind, it’s pretty simple. In Boston, where they are up 11632, they’ve found a way to get 200 more people inside Fenway every night. They’ve been sold out for several seasons. Tampa Bay, is coming off a trip to the World Series. Kansas City dumped millions of dollars in renovating Kauffman Stadium, and it still is a beautiful ballpark. Zach Greinke also hasn’t hurt once or twice on a homestand. Minnesota is playing it’s final season in the HHH Metrodome. Though it’s never going to be confused with Camden Yards, it does have sentimental value to Twins fans. Finally, Texas has been within 3 games of the division lead all season long. Winning can bring people to the ballpark.

Currently, the Baltimore Orioles are down 35,441. That’s the second smallest decrease in the league. Only the Angels are closer to even at 25,967. As for the American League as a whole, it is down 563,180 for the 13 teams not named the Yankees. This works out to be about 817 paying customers per game played. Detroit, Cleveland, and Toronto have the worst attendance compared to 2008.

The National League is different story. Only 3 teams out of 16 have had an increase in attendance in 2009. Florida, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee have seen increases. Florida, having started 11-1, has stayed competitive in a division that has been lead by the Phillies for most of the season. The Phillies, are the World Champions, so their attendance should be a higher, and Milwaukee is coming off of their first playoff appearance since 1982. Los Angeles is close, only down 4312. Washington, Houston, San Diego, and Arizona are the bottom 4, all down over 275,000 paying customers. For the season, the National League is down 1,286,924 paying customers, not including the Mets. On average, the NL is down 1619 per night in every stadium.

So, what does this mean? MLB attendance is down 1.85 million. If we say that the average ticket price is $25 across the board, it does work out to be 46.25 million dollars. Extend that out at the current pace for the rest of the year, it will equate to 70 million dollars in attendance losses. Now keep in mind, the $25 average ticket price is a made up number. It could be more, but I’m almost certain, that it’s not less.

As a result, the veterans who thought they had a tough time this year finding work, finally agreeing to a one year deal, will not be breaking the bank this off-season either. Teams will continue to get younger, leaving players like Aubrey Huff, Kevin Millar, and Carlos Delgado looking for work, well into the spring.

Attendance figures from