Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 MLB Attendance: What Conclusions Can We Draw?

From the NBA: The Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz.

From the NHL: The Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks.

From MLS: The Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy, Montreal Impact, New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, and Vancouver Whitecaps.

What do all of these teams have in common?

They all averaged more fans per home game in 2013 than the Tampa Bay Rays.


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1. Los Angeles Dodgers: 46,216 -- led overall, NL, NL West
2. St. Louis Cardinals: 41,602 -- led NL Central
3. San Francisco Giants: 41,584
4. New York Yankees: 40,488 -- led AL, AL East
5. Texas Rangers: 38,759 -- led AL West
6. Detroit Tigers: 38,066 -- led AL Central
7. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 37,277
8. Philadelphia Phillies: 37,190
9. Boston Red Sox: 34,979
10. Colorado Rockies: 34,491
11. Washington Nationals: 32,745
12. Chicago Cubs: 32,625
13. Atlanta Braves: 31,465
14. Toronto Blue Jays: 31,315
15. Cincinnati Reds: 31,288
16. Milwaukee Brewers: 31,248
17. Minnesota Twins: 30,588
18. Baltimore Orioles: 29,105
19. Pittsburgh Pirates: 28,210
20. San Diego Padres: 26,749
21. New York Mets: 26,695
22. Arizona Diamondbacks: 26,355
23. Oakland Athletics: 22,337
24. Chicago White Sox: 22,105
25. Seattle Mariners: 21,747
26. Kansas City Royals: 21,614
27. Houston Astros: 20,393
28. Cleveland Indians: 19,661
29. Miami Marlins: 19,584
30. Tampa Bay Rays: 18,645

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What conclusions can we draw from these figures?

Well, for one thing, in terms of spending at the ballpark, baseball is still stuck in the 2008-10 recession.

Let’s go over the figures I think are most interesting, with the number preceding being their ranking in per-game attendance:

2. St. Louis may well be what it claims to be: “The best baseball town in America.” Especially when you consider how small their metro area is — although their “market” is quite a bit bigger.

3. The Giants did that well in spite of a lousy season. This is what winning 2 World Series in 3 years can do — although that may not have happened if, as they’d intended to do in 1993, they’d moved to Tampa Bay.

4. A bad year at the box office for the Yankees is a good year for almost anybody else.

6. The Tigers are doing their part to lift Detroit, and Michigan as a whole, out of the canyon of despair.

7. No matter how much Arte Moreno spends on the Dodgers, he can’t outdraw them. Except for 2011 — the last year of the disastrous Frank McCourt ownership — the Angels have never, ever, EVER outdrawn the Dodgers.

8. Even in a lousy year, the Phillies did pretty strong.

11. The Nats didn’t make the Playoffs, but they came close, and they still benefited from the previous season’s Playoff run.

13. The Braves, by their standards, did great.

14. The Blue Jays benefited from all that preseason hype.  But after July 21, by which point reality had fully set in, they had only 3 home games with an attendance of at least 37,000: August 11,
August 15 (Red Sox), and the season finale on September 29.

18. The Orioles benefited from back-to-back Playoff runs.

19. Western Pennsylvania proved that they would support a winner, if only Pirate ownership would pay for it.

21. The Mets drew 26,695 per game? 2.13 million? That may be how many tickets were sold, but that sure as hell wasn’t how many people showed up at Pity Field.

23. The A’s got a big jump, thanks to back-to-back Playoff runs.  Still, even with their lousy stadium and the Giants’ great one, the A’s should have done better.

24. The White Sox have a lousy season, they have lousy attendance.  The Cubs have a lousy season, they still do well.

27. The Astros’ attendance actually went up by 2.7 percent.  How they gained in attendance despite having their worst season ever, I’ll never know.

30. In their 6 winning seasons (the last 6), the Rays have averaged 20,887 fans for every home game.  This season, they had 33 away games with higher attendances than their highest home attendance of the season.  Take out their 9 home games against the Yankees, and their per-game attendance was 18,043.

Contrast that with the Montreal Expos, infamous for not drawing well: They averaged 17,264.  For all 36 of their seasons, the good ones and the bad ones alike.

If the Expos could be moved out of Montreal because they weren’t drawing well, why are the Rays staying in Tampa when they’re winning and not drawing well?

Tampa Bay won't support winning baseball.

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