Friday saw the beginning of interleague play across Major League Baseball for the 2011 season, and for the most part, the league should be happy with the results.
Ballparks were filled to 72 percent of capacity with six ballparks filled to 80 percent or better. Ballparks were actually filled to 3 percent less than last Friday when it was 75 percent, a sign that interleague may not be as popular as many have been lead to believe.
But, there’s a catch.
As we’ve reported prior, paid attendance does not reflect the total number of actual people that went through turnstiles. For example, while Fenway (99% of capacity) and AT&T Park (97% of capacity) appear to be below sellout, with comps, the club announced them as sellouts. This works as an advantage in terms of painting a robust attendance picture, but often times, paid attendance far exceeds actual attendance.
(See Inside the Numbers: MLB 2010 First Interleague Attendance)
As mentioned, Friday was the first day of interleague play in MLB. In looking at last year’s figures for the same day, attendance was down from an average of 31,718 to 31,007, or 2 percent.
But, as anyone looking at baseball’s schedule will tell you, it’s not balanced – the same teams do not match-up year after year.
However, the “natural rivalries” that MLB touts, do occur each season. For the Indians, winning is beginning to take hold in Cleveland. With both the 2010 and 2011 “Battle of Ohio” games on the first day of interleague being played in Cleveland between the Indians and Reds, attendance this year was up 37 percent from 23,028 in 2010 to 31,622. On the downside, the “Battle of the Beltway” series between the Orioles and Nationals failed to resonate as a true “rivalry” last night. While the 2010 game was played in Nationals Park, this year’s game at Camden Yards drew just 24,442 compared to 27,378 last season. Here’s how they broke out, showing the increase or decrease in attendance from 2010
|Reds and Indians
||Both at Cleveland
|Mets and Yankees
||At NYY this year
|Orioles and Nationals
||At Camden this year
|Giants and A's
||At SFO this year
|Padres and Mariners
||At SD this year
And while the first Friday of interleague often finds differing matchups, some clubs do host games in consecutive seasons. Below are the clubs that hosted last year and this on the first Friday of interleague, along with the team they played in 2010.
||vs Red Sox in 2010
||vs Braves in 2010
||vs Marlins in 2010
||vs Blue Jays in 2010
||vs Rockies in 2010
Below is a complete breakdown of Friday’s attendance, along with promotions and other notes of interest:
||Halladay Start. All home games sold out this season
||First game since 1918. Recorded as sellout due to comps
||Blanket. With comps, all home games at AT&T Park (16 and counting) sold out
||Only Non-Interleague Game, Greinke Start
||Both teams in first place, Fireworks
||Both teams .500 or above, Fireworks
||Two .500 teams, T-shirt giveaway
||Battle of Camelbank Ranch, Fireworks
||Up 4100 from Thursday, Fireworks
||2 last place teams
||Battle for Florida supremacy
||Texas & Canada, bad for box even with Fan Friday
|Total 15 games
Sell-Thru = Percentage of capacity
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David Simmons is a graduate of the University of Central Florida who worked in the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers over 4 seasons and has a decade of ticketing experience.. He serves as CFO for Players For The Planet and currently resides in Baltimore. You can follow David on Twitter @davidesimmons
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