Tuesday, September 28, 2010
BeerGuy feels the Pain: Attendance down across the MLB
As many Chicago fans (and beer vendors) can attest, attendance has been down this summer, especially this September. Wrigley has had empty bleachers and the sensitive Sox fans lost interest once the Sox began their autumn swoon.
Today's article in the New York Times illustrates that attendance across the league has still not climbed above pre-recession levels.
Nearing their first division title in 15 years, the Reds drew 12,000 fans to a recent night game, their smallest crowd of the year.
The sight of so many empty seats at stadiums where pennant contenders are vying for a chance to play in the postseason is a glaring reminder that baseball is still not back to its prerecession heights, and that professional sports leagues more broadly continue to suffer from the after-effects of the economic downturn after years of record growth.
Attendance across Major League Baseball is down about a third of 1 percent this year after falling in 2008 and 2009. Declines have been most noticeable in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, where the Mets, the Cubs and the Dodgers have had disappointing seasons, but also in Baltimore, Cleveland and Toronto, where attendance has slipped for several years.
But baseball officials and analysts say that many fans are still pinching pennies, even if economists have declared the recession officially over. With more games broadcast in high definition and the price of flat panel televisions declining, more fans are content to watch their teams at home and perhaps save their money for playoff tickets.
“It’s still a hangover from previous years when everyone was worried about the economy,” said Jon Greenberg, executive editor of the Team Marketing Report, which publishes the Fan Cost Index. “People realize they can do without as many games.”