Major League Baseball's All-Star game Tuesday night is set to draw a full house. Some 45,000 people are expected to fill all the seats of Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
But the game appears to be an exception rather than the rule this year when it comes to putting fans in baseball stands. MLB's total game attendance is down by 417,192 people so far compared with last year at this time, according to Baseball Reference.com.
In fact, live attendance in other U.S. sports—pro basketball and football, motor sports and even college football—has declined or leveled off the last three to five years.
"The drop-off in attendance for live sporting events is getting worse," said Lee Igel, a professor of sports management at New York University.
"You've got a lot of competing factors in this, even bad weather," Igel explained. "But with the economy still sorting itself out, there's the huge cost of going to live events plus fighting through traffic and parking just to get to the games."
"And even more important is the experience of watching games in the comfort of your home on a big screen without the hassle at a stadium," Igel said. "That keeps a lot of people away."