A wise man once said, “If you build it, he will come”. Ok, so maybe that was just a line from a movie, but it does hold some merit. When you look at baseball teams’ records, you can probably make an educated guess on what their attendance was like for that year. The bottom line, if you put a winning team on the field, (not named the Tampa Bay Rays) the fans will come out to watch.
Let’s take a look at exhibit A: The New York Mets have had two disappointing seasons in a row in 2009 and 2010. In 2009 the Mets were 70-92 and averaged 39,118 fans. It was a drop off from the year before when they went 89-73 and averaged 49,902 fans per game. Now I know that was the last year they played at Shea Stadium was a farewell tour and the following year at Citi Field was less than stellar due to a poor team and a spike in ticket prices, but let’s compare 2007 and 2010. In 2007 New York finished 88-74 and averaged 47,580 fans. In 2010, they finished 79-83 while drawing 31,602 fans.
Next, we have the Baltimore Orioles. The last time they were playoff relevant was 1997. But if we stay current, in 2010 the Orioles went 66-96 while averaging 21,395 fans per game. The last time Baltimore was even remotely competitive was 2004 when they went 78-84. During that season, they averaged 33,877 fans. Imagine what they would draw if they were fighting for a playoff spot!
The Cleveland Indians are another team that shows us the fans like to see a quality product on the field. In 2010, the Indians were horrible. They finished with a record of 69-93 and drew 17,181 fans per game. Back in 2007, when the Tribe went 96-66 and lost a heart breaking ALCS to the Boston Red Sox, they averaged 28,449 fans per game. That’s over 11,000 fans PER GAME difference.
One last example would be the Milwaukee Brewers. Back in 2006 the Brew Crew finished with a respectable 75-87 record and drew 28,835 fans per game. The next year they improved to 83-79 and saw attendance increase to 35,422 per game. Then the year after that, they made the playoffs after finishing 90-72 and drew an average of 37,882 per game.
The Tamps Bay Rays buck this trend big time. Last season the Rays had the second best record in baseball at 96-66, but only drew 23,025 fans per game. Some Rays players ripped into fans for not showing support last season, and I partly agree with them. Granted the economy is still a ways away from a full recovery, it just seems that Tampa is not a baseball town, especially when you take into consideration the Seattle Mariners were a pathetic 61-101 in 2010 but outdrew the Rays 25,749 to the aforementioned 23,025.
Now what all this babble means is that if you put a good product on the field, you are more than likely going to draw a good crowd (minus the state of Florida). If you draw a good crowd, you are also able to spend more for the on field talent. According toteammarketing.com the average baseball ticket will run you $26.74. That number is the MLB average. So, if we look at a team such as the Orioles who drew over 12,000 fans per game more when they were competitive, if you do the math, that turns into 972,000 seats for the season. If we put a dollar amount on that, take that 972K times the average ticket price, and the O’s could have had an extra $25,991,280 in ticket sales and can use that money towards, say Prince Fielder for next year…just sayin’….
All attendance records taken from Baseball-Reference.com