As of Saturday, Sept. 6, average attendance for the league is at 32,614, down from 32,757 on the same date last year, or a 0.44 percent decline. The drop in paid attendance (tickets sold, not turnstile clicks) comes as both Yankee and Shea Stadiums see their swansongs, and a new ballpark opened in Washington, D.C. . . .The Padres, A's, and Mariners have unexpectedly miserable seasons to thank for the majority of their drop off. Less clear is why the Rangers -- who have played decent ball and have unleashed Hamilton-mania upon the unsuspecting populace -- are so far off last year's pace. My guess: gas prices. Things are really spread out in Texas, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Rangers fans have the longest average drive to get to the ballpark out of every Major League team. Even Anaheim probably has a more centralized fan base by virtue of there being competition to the north (the Dodgers) and the south (Padres).
. . . The biggest declines from last year to this come from the Rangers (-20.58 percent), Padres (-13.75 percent), Athletics (-13.42 percent) and Mariners (-12.10 percent).
Maury does note, however, that the drop in attendance is not exactly a harbinger of dire days for Major League Baseball:
Even if MLB doesn’t break the attendance record, it will be close and will most likely be the second highest attendance figure of all time. When you look at how well the All-Star Game went, and other business aspects, the odds are that even if attendance were down a smidgen at the end of the season, revenues will be up. MLB will certainly crow about that even if they don’t chest thump on attendance.But you know what? To see how the economy is really impacting the game, I'd be more curious to see numbers on cable/satellite game packages and other things -- maybe online merch sales? -- besides ticket sales. Why? Because as many have noted, actual crowds at games are skewing richer these days, leaving the working stiffs to consume their baseball in other ways. My guess: while ticket sales may be somewhat more resilient than expected, other revenue streams -- especially those catering to people with lower incomes -- are drying up quicker.