MLB is seeing attendance issues that have not been prevalent around the baseball world since the strike-shortened 1995 season.
Through the first near three months of the season, MLB’s attendance has dropped 6.6 percent from this time last year with those attending games dropping at a nine percent clip.
There’s really not one thing we can point to as it relates to the decline. Certainly, MLB is no longer considered America’s Pastime, with both the NFL and NBA taking larger pieces of the sports world’s pie. But that’s a narrative. It’s not a firm stat we can hang our hats on.
Though, attendance equals revenue. MLB’s revenue has not increased at the clip of these other two leagues over the past several years.
It now seems that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is concerned about the steep decline in attendance thus far this season.
“We’re hoping that we rebound in the second half of the season,” Manfred said recently, via The Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond. “We’re having a great season in terms of races and competitive teams, and we’re hoping with weather … (that) we make some of that ground up.”
Once the dog days of summer hit and children are out of school, MLB sees a natural uptick in attendance. But the stats mentioned in the WSJ article don’t take that into account. Instead, the report focuses on what we’re seeing up to this point in the season.
There is, however, positive news here for Manfred and MLB. Competition leads to renewed interest. And it’s been a very competitive season thus far.
All six divisions are within 4.5 games entering this weekend’s action. Four of those divisions are separated by less than two games, with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox doing major battle in the AL East.
If this trend continues, and with some of the game’s biggest markets remaining in contention, we’re going to see an increase in attendance.
In no way does that change the long-term issues we’ve seen as it relates to interest in baseball. Continued changes to the landscape of the game in the modern era is the only real way to fix this.