Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
October 04, 2006
MLB hasn’t issued the official press release on the league’s attendance, but it’s expected that it’ll be another record-breaking season. In 2005, attendance was 74,915,268, and if things went as planned this season, attendance will top 75 million for the first time ever. With that, it’s worth taking a look at ESPN’s MLB Attendance Report to check out some of the trends and extremes around the league.
For the fourth straight season, the New York Yankees led all of baseball in attendance with 4,200,518. The only a time a team has drawn that many fans was in 1993 when the Colorado Rockies played their first season. That year, the Rockies drew 4,483,350. It marks only the fifth time that a team has crossed the 4 million fan mark, and the Yankees now join the Toronto Blue Jays as the only team with two seasons with a 4 million-fan draw. The Yankees also led all of baseball in road attendance with 38,028 fans per game.
The Los Angeles Dodgers came in second place; they led the National League in attendance for the third straight season with 3,758,421. That mark breaks the franchise record set by the team in 1982 when Fernando Mania was still running wild and the Dodgers were coming off a World Series win the year before.
The Cardinals came in third place in overall attendance and were fourth in attendance per game in their new stadium. They actually drew fewer fans than last year because the capacity of the new Busch Stadium is slightly lower then the previous incarnation of Busch Stadium. Rounding out the top five were the Angels (fourth in total attendance and fifth on a per-game basis) and the Mets (fifth overall and third on a per-game basis).
Twenty-four teams crossed the 2 million mark this year. That’s up from 22 last year. Eight teams exceeded 3 million in attendance, and two others, both Sox teams, just missed the 3 million mark. Last year, only six teams exceeded 3 million fans at their home ballparks. The New York Mets and the Houston Astros were the two teams that topped three million fans this year but not last year.
The Red Sox led the league in capacity. They came in at 100% and sold out every home game this year. Second were the Chicago Cubs at 94.9% and third place went to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at 93.4%
The bottom of the attendance report contained the usual suspects. Despite being in contention for a postseason berth heading into late September, the Florida Marlins finished dead last in attendance with 1,165,120. They supplanted last year’s last-place team and this year's second-to-last-place team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Rays drew only 1,369,031 fans last year. Rounding out the bottom five are the Kansas City Royals (1,372,684), Pittsburgh Pirates (1,861,549) and the Oakland Athletics (1,976,625). The A’s had the lowest attendance and the lowest payroll of any team in the postseason.
The Detroit Tigers made one of the bigger jumps in the league. They were 20th first last year with 2,024,505 fans; this year they jumped all the way up to 13th with 2,595,937. That 2006 mark is the second-highest total in the franchise’s history and the highest total since Comerica Park was built in 2000. In 2003 when they escaped infamy by losing one less game then the 1961 Mets, the Tigers were 27th in the league in attendance.
Going in the other direction were the Washington Nationals. They finished in 11th place last year in the first season since 1971 that baseball has been played in the nation’s capital. After a lackluster second half last year and a poor season this year, the team dropped all the way down to 21st place. That was a drop of over seven thousand fans a game.
Hopefully the league’s press release will be out for next week’s report and I’ll round out the numbers then, including minor league totals and probably a few more records that I missed.
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.
<< Return to Article