Bud Selig’s Secret
Bud Selig has admitted that MLB attendance has dropped over six percent from 2008 but is trying to sugarcoat the situation with statements like this:
Selig said attendance should be viewed against the standards set in recent seasons. Baseball had a record average of 32,785 two years ago, breaking a mark that had stood since 1993, and the average declined slightly last year to 32,539.
Instead of telling the true story about the drop in attendance from 2008 he is talking about how great attendance was in past years.
Baseball-reference.com has a list of attendance updated through July 26 that shows the depth of the attendance drop. The list shows the attendance from the same number of games from both seasons.
Selig doesn’t mention that MLB attendance has dropped from 46.9 million in 2008 to 44.4 million in 2009 for a drop of 2.5 million fans.
Only ten teams out of thirty have had an increase in attendance. The Red Sox have had an increase of only 226 fans per game and the Reds have increased theirs by 101 fans a game so since their increase is so small per game it almost can’t be counted. With the Reds falling in the NL Central standings they may be the 21st team with less attendance by the end of the season.
The last place Royals of the AL Central have the largest increase of any team with 183,190 more fans than in 2008. They are averaging 3,331 more fans per game. I attribute the early season success of Zack Greinke to their increased attendance.
Another surprise team in the top 10 list is the Pirates who have increased their attendance by 48,305 for the year and 1,073 per game despite being last in the NL Central and 13 games under .500.
Five of the top 10 teams have a winning percentage of .500 or below. The Phillies with an increase of 118,777 for the year and 2,284 per game are the only team in the top 10 that is in first place.
Leading all teams with the largest drop in attendance is the Mets with a decline of 445,393 fans this season and a drop of 9,682 per game per game.
The Yankees have been hit by falling attendance numbers with 52,610 fans per game in 2008 but only 45,441 per game this season. Despite the sluggish economy the Yankees charged exorbitant prices for their tickets so their decline in attendance is not surprising.
With the higher ticket prices they may actually still be posting a profit this season but only the Steinbrenners would know.
The Yankees even with the drop in attendance still lead the majors with 2.3 million fans attending in 2009.
Even being in first place in the AL Central has not helped the Tigers increase their attendance which has dropped 8,055 per game. However with the massive layoffs in the automobile industry in Detroit combined with a 24.9 percent unemployment rate in Detroit for May it is no surprise the attendance is dropping.
The teams which have seen increased attendance in 2009 have a range of 215-3,331 per game increase while the teams declining in attendance have a decline from 308 less per game to 9,623 less per game.
The Padres, Astros, Nationals, Yankees, Tigers and Mets have drawn 5,000 or more fewer fans per game in 2009.
So with 20 teams having declining attendance Selig is not telling the true story behind the drop in attendance. What happened a few years ago has nothing to do with 2009 and the way attendance is in a freefall.
The A’s are last in attendance this season with 832,711 and are the only team along with the Pirates and Marlins who have yet to cross the million mark in attendance in 2009.
They also lead in the lowest attendance per game with 17,717 which is barely less than the Pirates who have five more fans per game with 17,722.
At this point in 2008 the Yankees, Mets and Dodgers were the only teams drawing 45,000 or more fans per game. This year only the Yankees are drawing 45,000 or more fans but have seen a drop of over 7,000 less fans per game.
Attendance per game in the majors has dropped from 31,974 to 30,271 since last season. That is a drop of 1,703 per game. That is huge drop when taking into consideration that each of the thirty teams plays 162 games a season with a total of 2,430 games being played a season.
So no matter how much of a positive spin Selig tries to use when mentioning attendance numbers it is best to go to the chart at baseball-reference.com. That chart tells the true story where you can see for yourself that baseball is not in a good place right now when it comes to attendance.
ESPN.com has a chart that shows the percentage of fans in relation to capacity.
This chart shows that only sixteen teams are filling 60 percent of their seats at games this season. The Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays and A’s are not even filling half of their seats with the A’s filling only 40 percent of their seats.
The difference between the 2008 and 2009 seasons is really spotlighted when seeing that in 2008 there were 21 teams filling 60 percent of their seats.
Bud Selig has been telling only part of the story about attendance just like he has tried to whitewash his involvement in the proliferation of steroids during his watch.
He claims to have the steroids situation under control and likes to tell of the great testing program in place for performance enhancing drugs yet there are drugs players can be taking right now that are undetectable because there is no way to test for those drugs at this time.
In conclusion if Selig says it is raining it is best to look out the window before believing him because he has showed his word means nothing.