The final Major League Baseball attendance totals Thursday showed the game was actually up by half of one percent from a year ago, ending three straight seasons of drops.
The overall attendance of 73,425,568 this year was the fifth-highest in MLB history. The 30 teams combined to average 30,229, STATS LLC said after the regular season ended Wednesday night. That was up from 30,067 last year,
This, despite the Dodgers dropping 18 percent and failing to reach 3 million for the first time in a non-strike year since 1992. That is, with them counting actual seats sold as part of the average attendance of 36,236 a game. We all know it was closer to 25,000, if that, on many nights, far lower toward the end of the season as those who owned season seats continued to boycot the business dealings of owner Frank McCourt.
The worse drop, however, belonged to AL wild card winner Tampa Bay — 19 percent, to a meager 18,846 average per game. The Rays drew 29,518 on Wednesday night for their 8-7 win in 12 innings over the Yankees that put them into the playoffs.
Not even Houston, which lost a team-record 106 games, were worst percentage-wise than the Dodgers in the NL. The Astros averaged 25,546, but that was only an 11 percent drop for a year ago.
The World Series champion San Francisco Giants sold out every home game this year and drew rousing ovations in their wrapup Wednesday. San Diego drew over 32,000 fans to Petco for the season finale against the Cubs while Florida attracted 34,615 in the final game at Sun Life before moving into a new ballpark next year.
The NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies led baseball’s attendance chart for the first time, drawing 3,680,718 fans. The Phillies have had 204 straight regular-season sellouts at Citizens Bank Park — Boston has sold out 712 straight games at Fenway Park.
“The resiliency of our sport never ceases to amaze,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.
This year’s attendance remained nearly 8 percent below the record 32,785 set in 2007. During the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009, the average dropped to 32,528 in 2008 and 30,350 the following year.
Cleveland had the biggest percentage increase, up 31 percent to an average of 22,726. Other teams with big jumps were Pittsburgh (22 percent to 24,255) and Texas (18 percent to 36,382).
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