Commissioner Selig and MLB continue to predict that the league will see another record year of attendance and revenues, even as there are possible signs early in the season that reaching those projections may be in peril. Some clubs are posting attendance decreases from the year prior. While early in the season, and therefore weather is always a factor, some clubs are seeing attendance drops in the double-digits. Due to the drop, MLB may be hard pressed to reach their 81 million in attendance projection as to-date, numbers are at where they were last year at this time. As reported by the Sports Business Journal:
The league’s overall average of 30,230 fans per game as of last week is flat from last year, with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig largely blaming what he called “horrendous weather,” particularly in the Midwest.
More glaring, though, is that eight teams are behind their respective 2007 attendance paces by double-digit percentages. That compares with the marks at season’s end last year, when no team dropped by more than 9 percent at the gate compared with the prior year. Only seven teams overall had any sort of decline last year, compared with 16 thus far in 2008.
The eight teams with double-digit declines so far this season are Florida, Houston, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, Texas and the Chicago White Sox.
On the declines, the Mariners have been a disappointment, and the Giants no longer have Barry Bonds and sit 11 games out of first place.
Declines for the Athletics and White Sox are harder to define. The A’s have been at the top of the standings (currently in 2nd, 3 games behind the Angels) and ditto for the White Sox who sit in first, 1.5 games up on the Twins.
Back to the Athletics, their average through May 21 of 19,191 (ranked 26th out of 30 clubs) is misleading due to the large turnouts for the games with the Red Sox in Japan.
“The turnout certainly has been disappointing,” [managing partner Lewis] Wolff said, “and on some levels, you could say the economy has finally become something of a factor.”
Read The Biz of Baseball interview with Lewis Wolff