Major League Baseball’s attendance problem continues to worsen, and teams in the rebuilding stage are especially starved for fans.
As the early spring part of the season comes to a close, USA Today reports that 12 of 30 teams will draw fewer fans in March and April than they did in the same period last year. Fully seven of those teams saw attendance fall by double digit percentages. The Toronto Blue Jays saw a 33 percent drop annually for the two first months of the season.
Perhaps most troubling is that 15 teams saw declines in their worst attendance ever. Twelve teams’ worst gate was 11,000 or less, with four teams – Pittsburgh (8,523), Cincinnati (7,799), Baltimore (6,585) and Miami (5,934) sporting a base of less than 10,000.
I know that it's a Wednesday afternoon during the school year in a city that doesn't draw well against a team that doesn't attract a road crowd. But I've never seen so few people at a major league game as the one just starting now between Kansas City and Tampa Bay. pic.twitter.com/z3QUdfdWiT— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 1, 2019
Overall, the major league team's average March-April crowd is virtually flat – 26,560, compared to 26,859, a drop of less than 1 percent. However, that comes after a 2018 season that saw a 4 percent drop in attendance across the league.
While commissioner Rob Manfred claims poor weather is the culprit — there were 28 postponements in March and April of 2018 — this season has seen just 13 games postponed in the first months of the season.
What’s very clear from USA Today’s research is that fans of rebuilding teams aren’t making it out to the stadium. For instance, the San Francisco Giants, who are bound for a third straight losing season, are averaging 32,665 fans, down 17 percent from an average of 39,278 in March through April of 2018.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds are down 11 percent over last year to 15,435, the Tampa Bay Rays are down 8 percent to 14,008.