BOB: Phils, Yanks lead in attendance againby Brian Borawski
October 10, 2012
The final numbers are in: Major League Baseball sold 74,859,268 tickets in 2012. This was the most since 2008 and it marks the second straight season of an increase. It's the fifth best all-time total, behind the golden years of 2005 through 2008.
For the second straight season, the Philadelphia Phillies led baseball in tickets sold with 3,565,718, but that's down from last years total of 3,680,718. The New York Yankees continued their dominance in the American League, ranking second in baseball with 3,542,406, down a hair from the year before. No. 3 were the Texas Rangers, who sold a team record 3,460,280. Rounding out the top five are the San Francisco Giants with 3,377,371 and the Los Angeles Dodgers with 3,324,246.
In all, nine teams sold more then three million tickets. The others: the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. Thirteen teams sold at least 2.5 million tickets and 23 sold at least two million, up from 20 last year.
Some teams saw some nice spikes in their attendance. Riding their playoff run, the Washington Nationals sold 2,370,794, the most since 2005, their first season in Washington. The Baltimore Orioles saw their best attendance mark since 2007 with 2,102,240. The Cincinnati Reds had their best attendance total since their first season at the Great American Ballpark in 2003 and the Pittsburgh Pirates topped the two million mark for the first time since PNC Park opened in 2001. The Red Sox also extended their sellout streak to 793 games, a mark which goes back to May of 2003.
At the bottom were the Tampa Bay Rays with 1,559,681. Right in front of them were the Cleveland Indians at 1,603,596. Rounding out the bottom five were the Houston Astros (28th), Oakland Athletics (27th) and the Seattle Mariners (26th). The Miami Marlins had a nice increase from last year with their new stadium, seeing a rise from just over 1.5 million to an 18th place finish at just over 2.2 million.
New York dominated the road draw. The Yankees drew an average of 34,154 on the road, the best in baseball. Second, and tops in the National League, were the New York Mets with 33,720. The Washington Nationals drew 33,116 on the road;rounding out the top five were the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Kansas City Royals were the worst draw on the road with 27,447 tickets sold per game and the Texas Rangers—of all teams!—finished second to last on the road (most likely because of the Mariners and the Athletics' poor attendance) with 28,209 per game.
In general, MLB has to be happy with the numbers. If anything, it looks like there's more parity in the league's attendance numbers. The Rays figure is the best last- place finish ever and even back in 2007, when baseball set its attendance record, it had only one more two-million team. It looks like the days of the four million totals are a thing of the past once old Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium closed, but other teams in the middle of the standings have been picking up.
With that, there is still a lot of room for growth. Only five of the top 10 teams filled more than 90 percent of capacity, with the Los Angeles Dodgers coming in at a low of 73.3 percent. It's tough to tell what kind of effect the extra Wild Card team might have had, but down the stretch, it seems like there were just as many teams in the race as there were last year.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.