SBD/May 29, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Diluted MLB Interleague Play Seen As Key Factor In Lower Attendance In '13

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Monday's Yankees-Mets game drew less than 33,000 fans to Citi Field
MLB interleague games that often had "sold out in the past are just not as hot a ticket at the moment, which is one reason baseball attendance over all is down about 2.6 percent this season," according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. Ticket sales have not been helped by the "realignment of the two leagues, which has led to interleague games every day of the season, reducing their novelty." The number of "so-called rivalry games between geographical opponents" like the Mets and the Yankees, the Cubs and White Sox, and the Dodgers and Angels, also has been "reduced to four from six and moved to weekdays from weekends." For the first Yankees-Mets game on Monday, Citi Field had an "announced crowd of 32,911, about 8,000 seats short of a sellout, and the smallest gathering ever for the more than 90 interleague contests between the two clubs." Diluted interleague play is "not the only reason that nearly 600,000 fewer fans had shown up at major league parks this season, through Monday’s games." Weather also has been "particularly uninviting, leading to 23 games being postponed." Overall attendance also was hurt because teams like the Cubs, Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox, who "regularly post strong ticket sales, entered the season with muted outlooks because of weakened rosters." Through Monday, the Cubs, Phillies and Red Sox all had attendance "drops of more than 100,000 fans." So far this season, 18 out of 30 teams "have seen a decline" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/29).

REDUCED PRICES: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jared Diamond wrote this is "one of the least-anticipated Subway Series ever." Demand for tickets this season "has reached its lowest point in recent memory." Data from secondary ticket site SeatGeek.com shows the average ticket for the four games this week costs $93.51, down from $108.67 last season and the lowest since SeatGeek started tracking the data in '10. Last season, the average ticket on the secondary market for the three Subway Series games at Citi Field "all cost more than $120." However, last year's games "were all on the weekend" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/28).

LOSING STEAM: CBSSPORTS.com's Danny Knobler wrote this is the week "when we find out that even the best of interleague play has 'no juice.'" Interleague play was "sold originally on the basis that fans love it." MLB "proved every year that fans loved it." But this season, with interleague games played on weeknights in April and May, there is "no sign at all that fans love it." The Rangers "didn't draw in Milwaukee." The Mariners "didn't draw in Pittsburgh." The Phillies "didn't draw in Cleveland." The Royals "didn't draw in Atlanta." So it is "really all about this week -- this week with no juice, nothing close to a sellout, so little enthusiasm" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/27).
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