The start of the MLB season always seems to get lost in the shuffle with everything else going on in the sports world.
You have March Madness wrapping up, the NFL draft on the horizon and the NBA and NHL playoffs getting started to keep fans’ attention divided.
Thus early season baseball usually struggles at the gate.
That was made apparent during Game 1 of a doubleheader Wednesday.
After a Tuesday game between the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles was rained out, Guaranteed Rate Field hosted a doubleheader the next day. The first game started at 3:10 local time, and not only were plenty of seats available, but plenty of sections were available.
— Ashley Rodón (@AshleyRodon) May 1, 2019
The same could be said about a Tampa Bay Rays-Kansas City Royals game that took place at the same time at Kauffman Stadium. The Rays entered Wednesday with the best record in the AL, but ESPN’s Jeff Passan was shocked at the dismal showing for the game.
I know that it’s a Wednesday afternoon during the school year in a city that doesn’t draw well against a team that doesn’t attract a road crowd. But I’ve never seen so few people at a major league game as the one just starting now between Kansas City and Tampa Bay. pic.twitter.com/z3QUdfdWiT
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 1, 2019
Wednesdays are often getaway days, with games taking place in the afternoon so teams can travel to their next destination at night.
Day games typically don’t draw the same crowds as night games, but day games have been taking place for decades and attendance never seemed to be as abysmal as it is now.
It’s not just optics. The attendance numbers for March and April are down from last season, with some teams taking huge hits, USA Today reported.
Twelve of the 30 teams drew fewer fans in March-April this year than they did last year, according to the report. Seven of those 12 teams saw a double-digit percentage drop, led by the Toronto Blue Jays, who lost 33 percent of fans.
Four teams had average attendance under 10,000 — Pittsburgh (8,523), Cincinnati (7,799), Baltimore (6,585) and Miami (5,934).
Overall, average attendance for that period last year was 26,859, while this year it is 26,560, USA Today reported.
The sparse crowds at games could lead to some very uncomfortable moments.
Well the kiss cam is going to be awkward
— Bill Peterson (@earthshiner85) May 1, 2019
The attendance news hasn’t been bad for every team. The Philadelphia Phillies’ signing of Bryce Harper is paying off in more ways than just the standings.
The Phillies are averaging almost 12,000 more fans than they did at this point last year. That’s a 44 percent gain, which helps offset many of the teams that had double-digit decreases.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.