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An In-Depth Look At MLB Attendance

It’s the All-Star Gameand that gives us a perfect time to discuss how Major League Baseball is doing from a business standpoint.

The most obvious, public evidence is attendance, which is easy to tally but often misreported.

MLB ballpark attendance changes chart
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MLB ballpark attendance changes chart

As I’ve chronicled in the past, in order to accurately compare attendance figures, you have to compare it to the same point last year, instead of against the final season statistics.

Using this method, we find that MLB attendance is down 5.5 percent this year.

Last year, 31,766 fans per game attended games for the first half of the season.

This year, that number is 30,003 fans per game.

As you’ll see in the charts, almost all of those who have attendance increases can be classified as "have-nots." There’s a reason for this, of course. It’s a lot easier to see a rise in attendance when you come from smaller numbers.

The most interesting numbers from the group that has experienced an attendance increase this year is the Kansas City Royals, which are getting the renovation and Zack Greinke bump despite heading into the break 14 games under .500. It also might come as a shock that the Rays, who made it to the World Series and are still in the chase to make the playoffs, are only up 11 percent from their measly attendance at this point last year.

Baseball officials say that the attendance decrease isn’t as bad as one might think because both the Mets and the Yankees are playing in new, smaller stadiums.

The Mets are down 22 percent and the Yankees are down 13.5 percent on a per game basis as compared to this time last year.

But the Mets are actually up (+4.8%) on a capacity comparison, while the Yankees are down less than half their total attendance number (-6.2%) when you consider the cutting of seats at the new stadium.

I know they’re in economic hell, and they even raised some of their ticket prices, but it’s a bit surprising that the Tigers have the second-worst attendance slide in the league (-21%) when they are leading the AL Central and are nine games over .500.

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