SBD/Issue 155/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Most MLB Teams Drawing Fewer Fans, But League Barely Down

Twenty MLB Teams Have Seen
Attendance Drops So Far This Season

Twenty of MLB's 30 teams through Thursday had "experienced attendance drops through the same period from a year ago," but overall it is "not quite as dire as it sounds," according to Larry Stone of the SEATTLE TIMES. Total attendance for the 234 total home games through Thursday was 6,699,993, down a total of 140,269, or just 599 fans per contest, compared to the same number of games in '09. Five teams with declining attendance -- the Cubs, Nationals, Red Sox, Tigers and Mariners -- are down "fewer than 1,000 fans per game." The largest drops "belong to the Mets (down 7,000 fans per game), Padres (down 6,317), Marlins (down 5,220), White Sox (down 5,039) and Blue Jays (down 4,146)." While the Dodgers, Braves and Rangers have "experienced healthy attendance gains thus far, and the Yankees, Angels, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cardinals, Phillies and Cubs remain attendance juggernauts," the Twins at their new Target Field are "almost single-handedly responsible for keeping the numbers reasonable." The Mariners for their first nine home games drew 230,822 fans, down about 466 per game from '09, and have drawn "three of the four smallest crowds in the 10 ½-year-plus history of Safeco Field." The Mariners have "plenty of company in the empty-seat category," as the Blue Jays, Indians, Orioles, Nationals and Mets also have "the smallest crowds in the history of their ballparks" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/25). MLB Senior VP/PR Pat Courtney said that overall attendance is down just 1-2% "from this stage last season" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25).

TIME TO WORRY? In N.Y., Joel Sherman wrote while MLB's '10 season is less than a month old, "there have been some concerning sights." Attendance was an "issue last year because of the economic downturn," but already this season "there have been record-low attendances" in several ballparks. The Mets are "staring at a dramatic dip" from last season, while "winning does not improve the spectator bottom line in Tampa, and losing is going to imperil the numbers in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston, Arizona, Cleveland, Kansas City and elsewhere." But MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, "I think you have to wait until Memorial Day to really get a good feel" (N.Y. POST, 4/25).

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