As everyone knows, when it comes to statistics there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Last week the Associated Press declared that “Over the opening two weeks of the season, Major League Baseball’s average attendance was 30,298 for its first 183 games, a 6.9 percent drop from last year’s final figure of 32,539.”
But other baseball industry watchers point out that determining true attendance pace requires accounting for how many games each team has played; obviously, each team’s schedule is different from last year. And the AP comparison was to last year’s “final figure” – a bogus analysis since attendance shoots up during the summer months.
Doing the math to account for those factors reveals that, as CNBC points out, MLB is averaging about a 3 percent decline in attendance as compared to last year, and not the nearly 7 percent reported.
In terms of hard numbers, the New York Yankees led the league in average attendance. Through six home dates 267,014 tickets were sold, averaging 44,502 per game. In second place were the Los Angeles Dodgers, having averaged 43,257 (also six games) while third went to the defending World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies (nine games, 42,073).
The bottom three of MLB’s 30 teams were the Washington Nationals, Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates, at 20,027, 19,879 and 17,058, respectively. But in the case of the Pirates, that doesn’t fully tell the tale: compared to last year, attendance at PNC Park is up nearly 16 percent.
More telling regarding ticket demand is, of course, the percentage of seats sold with respect to stadium capacity.
Here’s where the Boston Red Sox kick every other team’s butt. Ranked eighth in average – 37,755 per game – that number represents 101.6 percent of Fenway Park’s capacity (SRO sales accounting for the extra 1.6 percent). Next-best are the Phillies, their 96.7 percent nipping the Chicago Cubs’ 96.3. Two other teams made it into the 90-percent-or-more-of-capacity Promised Land, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (92.9) and the New York Mets (90.5).
In the 80 percent range are the San Francisco Giants (86.4 percent), the taken-to-task-for-scary-high-ticket-prices Yankees (85.0), the St. Louis Cardinals (84.7) and the Milwaukee Brewers (83.4 percent, with much thanks to last year, the club having returned to the postseason for the first time since 1982).