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Tuesday, October 05, 2021

MLB draws 45.3 million fans at stadiums this season

Major League Baseball drew 45.3 million fans this year as fans gradually were allowed to return, down from 68.5 million over 2019 in the last season before the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dodgers led the major leagues in home attendance at 2.8 million. They did not start selling at full capacity until games in mid-June.

This year’s MLB season averaged 18,901 for 2,397 dates, the commissioner’s office said Monday.

Atlanta was second at 2.3 million, followed by San Diego at 2.2 million, Texas and St. Louis at 2.1 million and Houston at 2.07 million.

The Yankees drew 1.96 million, Boston 1.7 million and the Mets 1.5 million in Steven Cohen’s first season as owner.

Miami was last at 640,000, Oakland 29th at 700,000, Tampa Bay 28th at 760,000, Baltimore 27th at 790,000 and Toronto 26th at 800,000.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 05, 2021 at 11:17 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: attendance

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   1. The Duke Posted: October 05, 2021 at 12:08 PM (#6043696)
Is this paid or actual? In my anecdotal watching of cardinal games actual attendance looked to be 1/2 to 2/3 of announced attendance. Why is that ? Is that season ticket holders just not going ? If not, why wouldn’t you dump them on stub hub?

I couldn’t understand why paid/actual seemed so different.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 05, 2021 at 12:34 PM (#6043699)
I couldn’t understand why paid/actual seemed so different.

I would guess that a lot of corporate tickets didn't get used b/c people weren't physically in the office.
   3. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: October 05, 2021 at 12:41 PM (#6043701)
I imagine some percentage of tickets were unused by people unable or unwilling to attend at the last minute due to illness though I'd guess that is closer to 1% than 50%. But part of the number. I'm sure Snapper's argument is the big one. As for selling on StubHub I wonder how the secondary markets did. I have to think a reasonably high number (10%? 20%?) of fans just weren't going no matter what due to the pandemic so there weren't as many buyers right from the jump.
   4. Sleepy was just “inspecting the bunker”, y’all Posted: October 05, 2021 at 12:46 PM (#6043703)
I would guess that a lot of corporate tickets didn't get used b/c people weren't physically in the office.
But think of all the opportunities to “work from home”.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 05, 2021 at 12:49 PM (#6043707)
Just anecdotally, I bought tix a week in advance, but then cases spiked up and I decided to pass, and I couldn't re-sell the tickets.
   6. Greg Pope Posted: October 05, 2021 at 12:52 PM (#6043711)
Yeah, we got Cubs tickets on StubHub for a great price at the last minute, but there were still tons of tickets available. I'm guessing people tried to dump them, but the demand wasn't there.

I guess it's game theory and all, but I don't see why people don't drop their prices to almost nothing as game time approaches. There were still $150 face value tickets on StubHub with asking prices above $120 when the game started.
   7. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: October 05, 2021 at 01:48 PM (#6043723)
I couldn’t understand why paid/actual seemed so different.


Except for wildly successful teams that always sell out, paid/actual is always different. There are NEVER as many bodies in Camden Yards as there are tickets sold.

guess it's game theory and all, but I don't see why people don't drop their prices to almost nothing as game time approaches. There were still $150 face value tickets on StubHub with asking prices above $120 when the game started.


Speculation: if people sell tickets for far less than they paid for them, they feel like someone is taking advantage of them. And they'd rather take the full hit than feel like someone is getting away with something. It's like the ultimatum game, but with sports tickets.

   8. John Northey Posted: October 05, 2021 at 03:21 PM (#6043743)
Of course the Jays was drastically lower than it should've been due to playing in Dunedin and Buffalo then having a 15k cap in Toronto until the final week of the season, and even then a 30k cap in a stadium that would've had 50k if allowed.
   9. DL from MN Posted: October 05, 2021 at 03:29 PM (#6043744)
Tampa Bay - 3rd in wins and 3rd to last in attendance. Maybe if they get a new stadium they can draw as well as Miami....
   10. The Duke Posted: October 05, 2021 at 04:10 PM (#6043755)
7. This is correct. I knew a lot of people around my seats in Atlanta that simply wouldn’t sell below a certain price and would eat it. They hated the idea of someone getting their seat for a pittance. I wonder how economic theories account for that in models
   11. Eddie Gaedel Posted: October 05, 2021 at 04:10 PM (#6043756)
@Duke (#1)
Is this paid or actual?


MLB started using "sold" seats rather than turnstyle clicks in 1992. They claimed it had something to do with revenue sharing. LA Times link

To explain some of the delta between used/sold tickets, aside from "We have 5K season ticket holders, but only 1K of them attended Wednesday night's game against the Rangers," this 2011 Forbes article offers the following:

- Sponsors get tickets. Each team has 50 to 100 sponsors times 4 to 8 tickets each is 200 to 800 potentially paid season ticket buyers [who may or may not attend]
- Club employees get comps. The front offices have 75 to 150 full-time employees plus innumerable number of part-time staff that could potentially "comp out" 300 to 2000 seats a night
- Player coaches and retired player comps.
- Visiting team comps - 4 times 35 players per game whether used or unused.
- Umpire comps - 4 Umps equals 16 tickets per game per Umps contract
- Commissioner’s Initiative - requires each team to donate 50 or 100k tickets per year to lower income charities.
- Voucher redemption - offer free or virtually free discounted tickets through sponsor store or product [I remember getting 4 free bleacher tickets in high school for having a good GPA.]
- Team charities – The league sends out thousands of tickets to games to local charities via team, seats sold to charity at pennies so they are sold then written off by team.

Lastly, Insider.com reveals that our favorite Commissioner-and-Villain-For-Life Bud Selig used this as an opportunity to artificially inflate attendance figures after the 1994/5 strike and the 1998 steroid scandal. Of course, it likely also helped boost club values (and RSN contracts) for his co-villains.
   12. Ron J Posted: October 05, 2021 at 05:30 PM (#6043777)
#11 The AL started doing so even sooner. In fact it coincided with the introduction of the DH. See how adding the DH boosts attendance?

Up around 5% on a per game basis (presumably a lot fewer corporate tickets back then)
   13. Walt Davis Posted: October 05, 2021 at 08:20 PM (#6043817)
On StubHub: Without substantial pre-sales due to covid and uncertain attendance restriction, teams had plenty of gameday tix available and had many of them priced pretty cheap. Why go StubHub if you can wake up in the morning, check the weather report, head to the game and get tix at the box office for $5-8? Also if all the StubHub sellers start dropping their price to $1 for Tuesday's game, folks wanting to go to Wed's game are gonna wait for prices to drop from $10 -- you don't want to reduce today's losses by $1 if it means you're going to increase tomorrow's losses by $2.

On the attendance figure ... the numbers are pointless until somebody goes through them and weights them based on the capacity limits in place for that stadium on that date. On the surface, given the circumstances, 2.8 M for the Dodgers sounds amazing, that's only off about 25-30% from their usual. Looks like they were limited to under 30% at season's start and they were stuck there until mid-June, about 40% through the season. For a Tues game against Philly, they got 52,000 fans, that seems just fine. After that, they never drew under 40,000 and pretty much only got that low when it was Ari or Col.

So they had 33 games under restriction (call it 16,000 per game, I think it was a little below) and 48 without. If you take their 2019 per game attendance times 48 plus 33 times 16 and you get an estimated 2.88 M; actual attendance was 2.80. So maybe a 3% drop which seems amazing under the circumtances.

Harder to do with the Cubs. They had averaged about 38-39,000 per game in the good years (3.1-3.2 M total) and attendance was down about 40% ... but of course they also stunk in the 2nd half of the year and traded all their stars at the deadline so what attendance would we expect. They seem to have been limited to about 25% until late May when it went up to about 60%. No restrictions arrived in mid-June and they immediately drew 110,000 for a weekend series against the Cardinals (but you'd normally expect probably 120,000 for that). They drew over 100,000 for a weekend series against the Marlins and 67,000 for a Mon-Tues set with Cleveland which is pretty good. The drew 90,000 for a mid-week against Philly and 75,000 for two against the Cards. Over 100,000 again for a weekend against Ari and 90,000 for a mid-week vs Reds which brings us to the deadline with things looking pretty normal.

First weekend post-deadline was the White Sox and they were at 120,000. But then the 4-game series (incl a DH) vs Milw wasn't that big at about 30,000 each but they also started that series 14.5 games back. They got swept that entire home series and our deep depression had set in by the end of that. Still they went along with 75-80,000 for mid-week and 90-95 for weekend. If we factored everything in, I suspect it would work out to be about the same as at least the 2013-14 team maybe the 2012, which is the last time the Cubs stunk.

Those are two big draws. What it was like for the more normal teams I don't know.
   14. The Honorable Ardo Posted: October 05, 2021 at 09:26 PM (#6043837)
Tigers tickets were $10 at the window for most games this year. For "premium" games (Yankees, Red Sox, Miguel Cabrera tribute night, etc.) they upped the ante to a whopping $17. Of course, those were nosebleeds, but no one cared if you crept into the lower deck.

In 2022-23, making the [admittedly big] twin assumptions of labor peace and no COVID hangover, the Tigers will be contenders and it'll be a much fuller ballpark.
   15. BDC Posted: October 05, 2021 at 09:29 PM (#6043839)
Rangers had no restrictions this year, or perhaps minimal social-distancing measures for the very first series (no restrictions on Opening Day itself, I think).

The never announced fewer than 14,000 tickets sold, so I assume that is the floor given season-ticket sales. The last game I was at (13 Sept.) they announced about 19,000 but I would be shocked if half that many people showed up. They shuttered a lot of concessions, closed some parking lots, visibly reduced the contingent of ushers, as the season went on.

Of course, a lot of that was the team being terrible. Usually this is balanced, the first year of a new stadium, by curiosity about the new place (it's a good park, good air-conditioning); but probably COVID muted the curiosity and we were left with no better (reported attendance) than they drew in '19 and '18, with a losing team, in the old park.
   16. Karl from NY Posted: October 06, 2021 at 02:56 PM (#6044030)
How do single-admission doubleheaders factor into this? Does each ticket count twice?

Umpire comps - 4 Umps equals 16 tickets per game per Umps contract

I had no idea this was a thing. I wonder who uses those. Do umpires' families travel with them to see them at games? Do umpires have a girlfriend/FWB in every city like star players?
   17. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: October 06, 2021 at 03:41 PM (#6044035)
A's couldn't even manage 20,000 for the last game of the season, a Sunday, with the team still in playoff contention, if fading fast.

I really do think the games are too slow and people began to realize they aren't even watching the game when they are there, because there is so much down time between pitches. You sit in the stands and watch the people surrounding you (and when there are only 5000 people in the stands it's just the die-hards) and a lot of them are preoccupied with concessions, talking to their neighbors or their kids, or what-have-you, and just 'checking in' on the game periodically. That didn't used to be the case.
   18. The Duke Posted: October 06, 2021 at 04:12 PM (#6044040)
I think paid/attended gap was huge this year vs prior years and there are good reasons for that as cited above but I think next year will be a real shock as attendance falls across the board.

I used to love going to the game but there’s so much dead time now and the TTO silliness ruins the fun. I hate the shift when I am at the game - it ruins baseballs symmetry and takes away good defensive plays. In a strange way baseball games in person have become like football games in person with less action. And you can see what’s happening to football

Now, go to a minor league game. It’s baseball as you remember it. We need Theo to come in and MBGA (make baseball great again).
   19. Mayor Blomberg Posted: October 06, 2021 at 04:21 PM (#6044042)
Now, go to a minor league game. It’s baseball as you remember it.

I wish that were true. A lot of them seem to have loaded up on the between-innings silliness and family-friendly "attractions" that make sure fewer people actually watch the game. Single-A Cal league in the 80s, early 90s was a delight.
   20. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: October 06, 2021 at 04:29 PM (#6044049)
I wonder how economic theories account for that in models


I mean, behavioral economists know all about it. Not my field, so someone else can fill in the details, but in the ultimatum game you can predict pretty well the point at which people are likely to start punishing the other player.

Also if all the StubHub sellers start dropping their price to $1 for Tuesday's game, folks wanting to go to Wed's game are gonna wait for prices to drop from $10 -- you don't want to reduce today's losses by $1 if it means you're going to increase tomorrow's losses by $2.


This only works if the StubHub sellers are coordinating their strategy. Otherwise, you can't trust one of the other sellers not to cut their prices for Tuesday's game, thus causing buyers to have just that expectation about Wednesday's game. Since anyone doing it will have that negative effect on you, and you can't trust other people not to do it, you might as well be the one to do it. That $2 is as good as gone anyway. (Except that people aren't rational. See above. That's the only saving grace here.)
   21. Mayor Blomberg Posted: October 06, 2021 at 05:08 PM (#6044058)
I don't know from Stubhub, but as a kid I used to try to get tickets to NY Rangers games, typically sold out, before the game from people who had an extra they'd sell below face value.
Scalpers would maybe come down to near face value 10 minutes after the game starts, if I recall correctly.
After that, they'd stand on 7th Ave and rip up the tickets.
   22. The Honorable Ardo Posted: October 06, 2021 at 08:54 PM (#6044092)
The only events where I've had success buying an "extra" are college football games, where I've gotten wasted tailgaters and kindly-uncle alums more than willing to sell (or, surprisingly often, if it's not a high-stakes game, give) me a ticket. For pro sports, Ziggy and Mayor Blomberg have it right.
   23. BDC Posted: October 07, 2021 at 08:55 AM (#6044406)
It is interesting, as several are saying, to hold something of value with an absolute expiration date on it. There might have been a buyer at $100 yesterday but there will be no takers at $0 tomorrow, and sometimes one misses the window.

Of course BITD you could think "Well, I'll just hang onto this unused 1953 World Series ticket and sell it on eBay 68 years from now." But even that is not usually an option anymore, unless maybe you can get an NFT for the QR code.

Several years ago, I corresponded with a minor-league owner. He sent me one of his team's unused tickets, saying something like "Keep this in case May 17th, 1984 ever comes around again." I still have it …
   24. Greg Pope Posted: October 07, 2021 at 10:29 AM (#6044435)
It is interesting, as several are saying, to hold something of value with an absolute expiration date on it. There might have been a buyer at $100 yesterday but there will be no takers at $0 tomorrow, and sometimes one misses the window.

I'm nowhere near an economist, but this is definitely fascinating. In the absence of a secondary market, it makes sense for a team to leave unsold tickets if a price isn't met. I get the fact that if the team has 1,000 unsold tickets at $100 each that it doesn't make sense to drop the price. Drop it to $10 and you'll sell 900 tickets but it would cause people to wait the next day (or whenever) and they might have another 5,000 unsold tickets while people wait.

But on StubHub, it's different. Like Ziggy says, they're not coordinating. If I have a $100 unsold ticket I am absolutely dropping my price down to $75 on game day, $50 four hours before the game, and $25 one hour before. For several reasons. First, it's better than nothing. I don't have whatever it is that resents people getting a bargain. Second, if there are people who are waiting and will still pay $100 at the last minute, there's no guarantee that they'll pick my ticket anyway. If 500 people are each holding onto that $100 price tag and there are 50 people who wait but will still pay $100 if nothing drops, then I only have a 10% chance of selling my ticket anyway.
   25. Jay Seaver Posted: October 07, 2021 at 11:54 AM (#6044463)
If I have a $100 unsold ticket I am absolutely dropping my price down to $75 on game day, $50 four hours before the game, and $25 one hour before. For several reasons. First, it's better than nothing. I don't have whatever it is that resents people getting a bargain.


I would try to do the same on the days when I have a ticket I can't use, but I find that if I can't go to a game, I usually don't have time to screw around tinkering with prices a couple times that day.
   26. tonywagner Posted: October 07, 2021 at 02:09 PM (#6044502)
This only works if the StubHub sellers are coordinating their strategy. Otherwise, you can't trust one of the other sellers not to cut their prices for Tuesday's game, thus causing buyers to have just that expectation about Wednesday's game. Since anyone doing it will have that negative effect on you, and you can't trust other people not to do it, you might as well be the one to do it. That $2 is as good as gone anyway. (Except that people aren't rational. See above. That's the only saving grace here.)

StubHub sellers aren't directly coordinating of course, but if virtually all of then have an "irrational" lower limit of $10-25 or whatever, and none of them are "rational" enough to drop their unsold tickets to $1 at game time, then they're effectively behaving in a coordinated fashion, correct?
   27. tonywagner Posted: October 07, 2021 at 02:12 PM (#6044504)
But on StubHub, it's different. Like Ziggy says, they're not coordinating. If I have a $100 unsold ticket I am absolutely dropping my price down to $75 on game day, $50 four hours before the game, and $25 one hour before.

How low do you go, if it doesn't sell at $25 either?

And how might it be different for a ticket that's only $25 face value in the first place?
   28. Captain Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: October 07, 2021 at 04:22 PM (#6044548)
Maybe people who eat tickets rather than sell them for "something" think that if they use that strategy, people who know they do that will know to make a better offer for them in the future, and the ticket owner will recoup more money in the long run.

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