Chris Garosi

Early MLB Attendance and Ticket Trends

Major League Baseball has seen a jump in attendance in the last two seasons that reversed a slide from prior seasons. Patrick Rishe of Forbes took a look at the largest attendance gains and losses from 2011 to 2012. The largest gain was from the Miami Marlins (44.2% increase) due in large part to the opening of Marlins Park.

One year later, the Miami Marlins are the only team (ever) to sell Opening Day seats via online discounter Groupon – up to half price for many seats. They were widely panned for the move as Opening Day is an event for each team where attendance is rarely an issue. The Marlins are going beyond Groupon by offering a different promotion each night of the week like so many minor league teams do. Perhaps it’s appropriate given the product they are putting on the field in 2013.

Opening Day 2012 brought 36,601 fans to Marlins Park for a Wednesday night game. One year later, Opening Day 2013 brought 34,439 fans through the turnstiles for a Monday night game. However, the next night attendance dropped to 14,222. The reasons seem clear – the Marlins made a lot of noise in the offseason prior to the 2012 season hiring Ozzie Guillen, and signing Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle. And they flopped. Spectacularly. Then, in the offseason they gutted the team and seemed to anger any fans they might still have left.

It’s early in the 2013 season (so small sample size warnings abound – these stats are through April 9), but amazingly the Marlins haven’t seen the largest drop in total attendance (they are second). That title belongs to the Oakland A’s who are down an average of 15,155 fans (and who could be moving to San Jose in the near future) over their first four home dates as compared to last year.

The biggest jump so far? The Baltimore Orioles (9,582 more fans per game) who have awakened a slumbering fan base with their improbable playoff run last season. The Toronto Blue Jays are second on the list (just under 9,100 more fans per game). The Jays acquired many a player from the Marlins this offseason and were deemed by many to have ‘won’ the offseason for all of their offseason spending. Third on the list is the Yankees of the west, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both the Dodgers and the Jays need to ensure that off field buzz is married to on field success to continue attracting fans to the ballparks.

Recently, the MLB Fan Cost Index was released by Team Marketing Report. Which teams have the most expensive tickets? Where can you find great values on MLB Baseball Tickets? Where is it tough to get a cheap beer? Where do you pay nothing to park? What else stands out as we enter 2013?

It’s no surprise to see the Yankees and Red Sox at the top of the list in average ticket price and Fan Cost Index™. Perhaps more surprising is to see their big spending brethren Dodgers so far below the MLB average at just $22.37 per ticket. Indeed, they’ve dropped their average ticket price and fall below the MLB average for FCI.

Perhaps we’ve found one reason for the Marlins’ ability to offer discounting tickets. They have the second most expensive beer – $8.00 for 20 ounces (behind the Nationals) and second most expensive hot dogs (behind the Mets). They get you in the door and then gouge you on drinks and food.

The Rays are the only team that doesn’t charge a parking fee. The downside is that you have to attend a game at Tropicana Field.

And if you want an all-around MLB bargain? Look no further than the Arizona Diamondbacks who come in at an FCI of $122.53, nearly $30 less than the next closest team.

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