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(April 2, 2017 - Source: Matt Hazlett/Getty Images North America)

Why are MLB attendances declining?

Major League Baseball’s attendances are on the decline. The last 12 months have seen a plethora of news outlets report on the league’s attendances getting worse. In October 2018, MLB’s attendances saw fewer than 70 million total fans over the course of the season for the first time in 15 years.

Last season saw a per game average of 28,830 fans. It is still a significant number of fans going out to baseball games from April to October. However, those numbers can be skewed thanks to certain teams buoying numbers for clubs with notoriously low attendances such as the Miami Marlins.

The 2019 season has seen MLB attendances drop for the fourth straight year with a 1.4% drop on last year. There are several reasons for fans not attending baseball games regularly. Each club is different, but many of these problems are being experienced by the vast majority of the league’s teams.

Meaningless baseball

Turn on a game in September and there are plenty of empty seats around MLB. Fans have had to endure marathon seasons and only one of the six MLB divisions has an exciting playoff race going on currently. That belongs to the National Central.

Not only is the MLB season too long, but with five teams making the playoffs in each league, there is a lack of interest from fans. If your team is out of the running for the playoffs, then why care and go to games?

Ticket price

The 1990s saw a shift in American sports. After three decades of building multi-sport stadiums for NFL, MLB, and other events, Camden Yards began a trend of expensive baseball-only venues. Since these stadiums were made simply for baseball, they were made smaller with fewer seats. In turn, the price of a ticket for one of these seats increased greatly.

With so many entertainment options, more fans are forgoing paying extortionate prices to watch their favorite baseball team to do something else. Ticket re-selling companies like StubHub do not help as they buy up available tickets to games fans want to see then re-sell them for inflated prices.


In 2018, MLB saw a revenue of $10.3 billion. The league and its teams are making money from television despite the lack of fans seeing games in-stadium. Despite the money being made, many teams continue to trot out losing teams that fans refuse to spend money to see live. Sure, they will watch on television, but spending large sums on a game ticket and overpriced food at a game is a once in a while activity for many families.

You can buy the MLB at Bat app for $19.99. So, why go to a live game in stadium when you could spend 10-times that by the time the night is over?

Attendance is always linked to winning. If you put out a winning team, you will see people come out to games. You can have the newest stadium (see Miami Marlins) and have trendy food stalls, barbershops, and other worthless non-baseball items inside, but that won’t attract fans. Winning baseball attracts fans and that is how you bring them back to the ballpark.

About Drew Farmer

Drew Farmer
Drew’s work has appeared on a variety of sports and travel websites. He is also a published author having written the sports/travel book Soccer Travels.

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