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Here’s the headline: Baseball suffers attendance drop in first 2 weeks.

That AP story is comparing this year’s first two weeks to last year’s full season, reporting that average attendance is down 6.9%. It also mentions, towards the bottom, that April and September are the worst months for MLB’s gate, due to the cold weather and schools being open.

Without even knowing what the average attendance was in the first two weeks of 2008, this actually seems like good news. Total attendance is expected to fall six percent this year, to about 75 million. If we’re only down 7% in the first two weeks, despite how cold it’s been in every northern city, this would seem like a somewhat positive indicator.

If someone has a day-by-day attendance database already set up and wants to run the numbers on 3/31 – 4/14 from last year, feel free to drop the results in the comments.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

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  1. on April 21st at 12:28 am
    NaOH said:

    The AP article cites the first 183 games of this season. In 2008, there were 183 games from March 31-April 13 (though two games were part of a doubleheader with only one game’s attendance listed). For the games in these ranges, here is the average attendance:

    2008: 31,750
    2009: 30,298

    The difference, then, is 1,452 per game. While there are plenty of variables that can’t be easily accounted for (i.e. by this time last year, the Red Sox had visited the Yankees), this is at best a negligible year-over-year difference. Considering just a few notable differences between 2008 and 2009 – the new stadia in New York have significantly reduced capacities, those two NY teams typically draw well but have played few home games so far, and the fact that the Nationals probably saw an attendance boost last year from their new stadium – the numbers for this year may actually be better than last year’s.

    As far as I’m aware, there are no existing stadia which underwent renovations which significantly changed the seating capacity. Unlike many recent seasons, for example, the Red Sox did not add more seats during this past offseason.

  2. on April 21st at 09:38 am
    Shawn Hoffman said:

    Thanks NaOH. That’s about 4.6%, which isn’t great news, but isn’t necessarily horrible given the expectations.

    The second half of the season is the key. If the economy starts to recover, maybe MLB will beat expectations. But if the economy is still struggling, teams that are out of contention could see massive declines. Unemployment will still be rising one way or the other, so I would probably bet on the latter.

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