MLB Attendance On Pace To Drop For Fourth Consecutive Year
MLB's overall season-to-date average attendance is 26,854, 1.4% "below the 27,242 through this similar point last season," when the final season average wound up below 30,000 for the first time since '03, according to Ronald Blum of the AP. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred "attributes this year’s drop to fewer season tickets but emphasizes day-of-game sales are up 6%." Of the 30 teams, 19 have seen their average "fall from a similar point last year." The league's average attendance in '15 was at 30,517 "before sliding for three straight years." But Manfred "points to other metrics that please MLB: Games top prime-time cable ratings in 24 of 25 markets, and MLB.tv streaming is up 8.5%." Florida "remains a problem on both coasts." The Marlins are on track to have the "lowest home attendance in the National League for the seventh straight season." The Rays' attendance is at the "bottom of the AL for the fifth consecutive year" despite a 35-19 record (AP, 5/30).
CROWD CONCERNS: YAHOO SPORTS' Jason Owens wrote images of empty seats at ballparks "popping up on social media are becoming increasingly common as bad baseball and poor facilities are proving tough draws to lure people to pay for parking, tickets and exorbitant ballpark concessions over the course of a 162-game season." As MLB "struggles to gain the attention of younger fans in a sport that increasingly sees long stretches of play with no action, declining interest is a real problem." Lucrative TV contracts have "ensured the financial health of the game for the near future," but baseball "finds itself in a real battle to get fans to the ballpark" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/30).
ENJOYING THEIR BOUNTY: In Pittsburgh, Mark Belko in a front-page piece noted attendance for the Pirates has been on the "upswing through the first two months of the season, based on tickets sold." The team is averaging 16,820 fans per game over the first 24 home games, up from 15,810 per game "over the same stretch last year." In '18, the Pirates "posted their worst year attendance-wise since moving into PNC Park" in '01 (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 5/30).