Posted October 2, 2014
Maury Brown - Forbes -
Major League Baseball’s regular season ended on Sunday and with it, paid attendance for the league (the number of tickets sold) came in at 73,739,622 with average attendance per game at 30,346. Year-over-year attendance was ostensibly flat, down 0.3 percent from the 2013 season when average attendance was 30,442. Overall, it ranks as the seventh most-attended season ever behind 2007 (79,503,175), 2008 (78,588,004), 2006 (76,042,787), 2012 (74,859,268), 2005 (74,702,034), and 2013 (74,026,895). This season marks the second consecutive year that attendance has dropped, albeit only slightly since then. Total attendance has dropped 1.5 percent since 2012.
Five clubs drew over 3 million in attendance in 2014. The Dodgers led the league with a total of 3,782,337, followed by the Cardinals (3,540,649), Yankees (3,401,624), Giants (3,368,697), and Angels (3,095,935). Showing that performance in the season prior can override poor performance this year, the 2013 Red Sox who were World Series Champions in 2013 but finished with an anemic 71-91 record—last in the AL East this season—just missed drawing 3 million fans with 2,956,089 in paid attendance. Back to the Dodgers, they surpassed the 3.7-million mark for the sixth time in club history, and it was their second highest total overall, behind 2007 (3,857,036).
Nearly half the league (12) drew over 2.5 million in attendance. Along with those over the 3 million mark, the aforementioned Red Sox, Tigers, Brewers, Rangers, Rockies, Cubs, and Nationals saw robust attendance.
On the down side, two clubs saw attendance below 1.5 million for the season. Ranking last for the third straight season was the Tampa Bay Rays with an average of 17,857 over 81 games. The Cleveland Indians saw a lower total attendance than the Rays (1,437,393 to the Rays 1,446,464) but that was due to the Indians having only 78 games played due to postponements. Cleveland’s 18,428 average attendance ranked second-to-last.
In terms on increase in attendance from last season, the Seattle Mariners, who signed top free agent Robinson Cano in the off-season, and missed the playoffs on the last day of the season by just a half a game saw an increase of 3,738 per game, or 302,788 more fans over 2013. The Mariners were followed by the Brewers (3,287 more per game), Royals (2,540 more per game), Athletics (2,399 more per game), and Pirates (2,293 per game).
In a sign that there is more or less a homogenization of interest in interleague and intraleague play, with interleague now in its second full year of traversing the entire season, interleague saw an average of 30,879 or 473 less per game than intraleague play that drew an average of 30,406.
As to why MLB has seen attendance ostensibly flat over the last few seasons, there have been no new ballparks opened, which had artificially raised attendance figures during the so-called “honeymoon period” for new ballparks as fans flock to see a new facility. That was coupled with a slightly higher number of game postponements due to weather-related issues such as rain or snow. This season saw 35 postponements, down from 37 last year.
Below are other highlights of MLB attendance for the 2014 regular season:
- The Pittsburgh Pirates established a single-season attendance record of 2,442,564 in 2014, breaking the previous mark of 2,436,139 set during the first season at PNC Park in 2001. The Pirates also posted 23 sellouts during the season, tying the club record set in 2013.
- The Washington Nationals drew 2,579,389 on the season, topping the 2.5-million mark for the second consecutive season and for only the third time in club history (also their debut season in 2005). The Nationals recorded eight sellouts, tied with 2012 for the most in a single season.
- The San Francisco Giants, who sold out every game this season, ended the 2014 season with 327 consecutive sell-outs, dating back to October 1, 2010, for the longest active streak in the Majors.
- The St. Louis Cardinals attracted 3,540,649 fans in 2014, the second largest attendance in the Majors this season, and the second highest attendance in franchise history behind 2007 (3,552,180). Led by 52 sellouts and an average of 43,712 per game, the 2014 season was the second time in franchise history with 40,000 or more fans at every game (also 2007).
- The Detroit Tigers, who recorded 27 sellouts during the 2014 season, posted the fifth largest total attendance (2,917,209) in the 114-year history of the franchise.
- The New York Yankees led the American League with 3,401,624, marking the 12th straight season they have drawn the most among AL Clubs.
- The Baltimore Orioles drew reached the 2.4-million mark for the first time since the 2005 season.
- The Kansas City Royals posted their highest attendance (1,956,482) since 1991.
- The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim logged nine sellouts in 2014, and their attendance of 44,561 on August 7th against the Los Angeles Dodgers established the largest regular season crowd at Angel Stadium since 1998.
- The Milwaukee Brewers attendance of 2,797,384 was an increase of 10.5 percent from 2013, marking the largest increase in the NL and the fourth largest in the Majors.
- The Seattle Mariners drew 2,063,622, eclipsing the two-million mark for the first time since 2010. The club’s attendance represented a Major League-best 17 percent increase over 2013.
- The Oakland Athletics had an attendance of 2,003,628 in 2014, surpassing the two-million mark for the first time since 2005 (2,109,118)
- The New York Mets attracted 2,148,808 fans in 2014, marking the club’s first increase over the previous season in Citi Field history (since 2009).
- The Houston Astros drew 1,751,829 fans in 2014, representing an attendance increase for the second consecutive season.