Attendance trends

MLB_Attendance_changes_2015Source: Baseball-Reference.com

Attendance is roughly flat this year across MLB: The league has averaged 29,340 fans per game so far, compared to 29,290 through the same period in 2014. The trend varies considerably by team, however.

Weather and schedule can affect the data so early in the season, but a few patterns are evident. The Royals, fresh off a surprising run to the World Series, have the league’s fastest-growing crowds, rising to 32,000 fans per game from 21,000. Other risers include the Nationals, Padres, and Mariners, who made moves over the offseason and/or entered the season with high expectations. On the other side, teams losing the most fans include the Yankees, Rangers, Phillies, Braves and Rays, which entered the year in decline (though some have been successful so far).

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Baseball is not dying

mlb_nfl_nba_attendance_over_time

The phrase “baseball is dying” has become an ironic meme on Baseball Twitter in response to the evergreen questioning of baseball’s health as a mainstream sport. And while baseball can’t match the NFL in terms of cultural clout, the above chart shows that the sport is hardly dying. Average attendance at MLB games has grown by nearly 20 percent since 1990, a higher growth rate than either the NFL or NBA.

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MLB teams by attendance

2014_attendance_MLB_teams

Three stadiums have been sold-out in nearly every game this season: AT&T Park in San Francisco, Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and Fenway Park in Boston. By the official figures (which come with a heavy dose of salt), Giants home games have been standing-room-only in aggregate, averaging 41,593 fans with a capacity of 41,503.

On a raw basis, the Dodgers have been baseball’s best-drawing team by a fair margin, with 46,506 fans per game in cavernous Dodger Stadium. Cleveland and Tampa Bay are in a close fight for last place in the capacity standings, practically even as of Tuesday night. In general, better teams tend to fill closer to capacity, but it’s far from a perfect relationship.

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