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MLB Attendance Highest In 10 Years

Old 04-29-04, 10:54 PM
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MLB Attendance Highest In 10 Years

source: New York Times

Attendance Pumped Up All Around the Majors
By MURRAY CHASS

Published: April 27, 2004

THE fans are really showing them, those baseball players and club owners. You don't want to do everything you can to rid the game of steroids? Well, we'll show you. Not only won't we stop buying tickets and start boycotting your games, but we'll also buy tickets in record numbers and show up in record crowds.


Contrary to those who predicted the game would suffer because of the negative publicity generated by steroid use, Major League Baseball is attracting fans as never before.

"We're off to a remarkable start," a highly pleased Commissioner Bud Selig said.

Selig had reason to be doubly pleased yesterday. While he scrutinized sizable attendance figures, his people and union officials completed an agreement on Olympics-style drug testing that will enable plans for a World Cup of baseball to go forward.

As many as 16 teams - although not all of them would be on the competitive level of the United States, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba - could play for the Cup in March if the logistics can be worked out in the relatively short time available for planning such a mammoth event.

It should be pointed out that the World Cup agreement does not mean the union will capitulate and agree to an Olympics-style testing program for steroids for all major league baseball. The union wanted a World Cup and did what it had to do to make it a reality. It already has a steroids testing program in the current collective bargaining agreement and, at the most, will amend it only slightly.

Rob Manfred, baseball's No. 1 labor executive, persuaded the union to accept testing for a World Cup because playing in the event will be voluntary. If a player wants to use steroids, he can avoid more stringent testing by not playing on a World Cup team. Major leaguers don't have that choice in their everyday jobs.

But they are apparently doing those jobs so well that they have persuaded the fans to come and watch them play. Who knows what might be in fans' minds when they go to the ballparks, but they are going.

Through the first three weeks of the season, attendance was up 14.4 percent over the corresponding period last season. A week ago, after the first two weeks, the increase was 15.1 percent, and the average attendance was the highest for that period.

The three-week average of 29,718 for 275 dates exceeded last season's average of 25,971 and has been exceeded (since baseball began compiling attendance figures in 1980) only by the 1994 average of 29,752. The 1994 attendance for the same number of games was only 9,359 more than this season's total.

This is 10 years later, and baseball has appeared to have made a significant recovery from the events that occurred later that season - the players' strike that ended that season prematurely and delayed the start of the 1995 season. Contrary to any cries of doom, baseball has demonstrated its resilience and the country's love for the game, steroids notwithstanding.

And fans did not wait for the season to begin to demonstrate their affection. They bought more tickets before the season than ever before. Tickets especially went quickly at Fenway Park in Boston and at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Fans in those cities evidently remained excited by their teams' scintillating flirtation with the World Series in 2003 rather than being turned off by their collapse when they were on the brink of getting there.

The Red Sox and the Cubs are virtually sold out for the season and are drawing record crowds. If the crowds keep going as they have the first three weeks, the Red Sox will shatter their season attendance record of 2.72 million with a total of 2.83 million and the Cubs will draw 3.20 million, breaking their record of 2.81 million.

The Yankees, who until 1999 never drew more than three million people in a season, would reach a club record 3.95 million this season if they maintain their eight-date average of 48,762

Yes, the Yankees and the Red Sox both have benefited from their two early-season series, but they have played each other early in other seasons and have not attracted such crowds.

The Cubs, who have drawn an average crowd of 39,490 compared with 31,395 for the same number of games a year ago, are benefiting from the attendance increase that teams have historically experienced the season after a good season on the field.

That is a fact of baseball's economy that H. Wayne Huizenga, owner of the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins, either didn't know or ignored when he dismantled his team before it could compete in 1998. This season the Marlins, champions again under a different owner, Jeffrey Loria, averaged 31,411 for their first nine home games, compared with 16,862 last year and 22,821 in 1998.

The average attendance for both leagues is up, and 22 of the 30 teams have gained in attendance: 12 of the American League's 14 teams and 10 of the National's 16. Maybe the tip-off on the attendance increase is the average crowds that have watched the perennial last-place Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Their attendance has risen from an average of 15,049, last in the A.L. a year ago, to 25,839, which is eighth in the league.

No wonder Selig is optimistic about the season's attendance.

"I'll predict we'll set an attendance record, given what I've seen in preseason sales and what I've seen in April, which is generally a horrible month," he said. "I feel good about a lot of cities."
Yeah, fan interest seems to be WAY down! Must be the competetive imbalance.
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Old 04-29-04, 11:42 PM
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I've done my part. Already been to two games (Angel Stadium), and have tickets to a third (Yankee Stadium).
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Old 04-29-04, 11:48 PM
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Going to first game next Friday at PNC Park, Dodgers vs. Pirates. Almost took off work today to go watch Andy pitch.
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Old 04-30-04, 01:00 AM
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Dang, after being to about 50 Padre games last year (working at the stadium), I haven't been able to make it to Petco Park yet...and they're actually winning now too!
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Old 04-30-04, 06:42 AM
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did they say they agreed on an olympic style drug testing

and that details have been worked out for the world cup of baseball?
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Old 05-01-04, 01:20 AM
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Originally posted by twikoff
did they say they agreed on an olympic style drug testing

and that details have been worked out for the world cup of baseball?
did you read the article?
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Old 05-01-04, 09:28 AM
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Originally posted by Bust
did you read the article?
no
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Old 05-01-04, 09:50 AM
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Originally posted by SomeVoices
Dang, after being to about 50 Padre games last year (working at the stadium), I haven't been able to make it to Petco Park yet...and they're actually winning now too!
Don't worry, I'm making up for what you're missing. I haven't missed a game at Petco yet.

What did you do at the Q? I tried to get a job with the Padres but they're unbelievably secretive about how to get a job with them. Seems that unless you're a friend of someone who already works there, forget it.
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Old 05-01-04, 01:24 PM
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Originally posted by twikoff
no
maybe you should. It answers your questions.
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Old 05-01-04, 03:03 PM
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Originally posted by Bust
maybe you should. It answers your questions.
nah
not interested enough

my questions were answered by the lack of headlines in the past few days
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