Jul 20, 2022 - Sports

MLB attendance: 23 of 30 teams are down this season

Data: Baseball Reference; Table: Thomas Oide/Axios

MLB attendance entering the All-Star break is down for 23 of 30 teams compared to the same time frame in 2019, representing a league-wide decrease of 6.4%.

Why it matters: The reasons for the decline are varied, but assuming the pace holds this will be the fifth consecutive non-pandemic-restricted season with declining attendance.

By the numbers: The Blue Jays (+49.2%) have seen the largest increase in attendance compared to the first half of 2019, while the A's (-54.6%) have seen the largest decrease.

  • Oakland is rebuilding amid relocation rumors, while playing in a ballpark that is "not a major league-quality facility," says commissioner Rob Manfred.
  • The Dodgers deserve a shoutout: The All-Star hosts have drawn roughly the same attendance as they did in 2019 and are No. 1 by a mile (9,000 more fans on average than the second-place Cardinals).

State of play: Season-ticket sales are down 10% this year, to which MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden attributes much of the decline, per Sportico (subscription).

  • That makes sense: Some fans may have soured on the league after the 99-day lockout, and money is tight with inflation at a 40-year high.
  • We're also currently in the midst of the fourth-biggest wave of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The big picture: MLB isn't alone, as average attendance in the NBA (down 3.7%) and NHL (down 9.3%) also declined compared to 2019. NFL attendance increased (up 1.2%), though that's entirely attributable to the Chargers and Raiders moving to significantly larger stadiums, per SBJ.

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