As pennant races heat up around Major League Baseball and the races for the end-of-year awards become clear, it is easy to forget the quality of games and fun that is in Minor League Baseball. The Minor League Baseball playoffs are in full swing and overall, it has been another successful season for the development leagues, Triple-A specifically.
In a piece earlier this year, I addressed an issue plaguing most professional leagues, the price of attendance not only for tickets, but once you’re inside the stadium as well. Although the NFL and some NBA teams have begun to address this, it’s still a huge problem for families wanting to attend games. Minor League Baseball thrives in this environment because of the accessibility and low prices.
The International League
Arguably the more popular league in Triple-A baseball, the International League is home to powerhouse “neighbors” in North Carolina, the Charlotte Knights and the Durham Bulls. Over the past few years, they have not gained attendees overall, but have enjoyed very steady attendance.
Although overall attendance has been going down since 2014, attendance per game has not which takes a bit of the concern out of the total drop. In the past six seasons, attendance per game has only dipped below 7,000 twice, both of which by less than 150 fans.
As for more recent attendance, the International League has had five teams in 2018 average 8,000 fans per game. In 2017, two teams averaged 8,000 and three reached 9,000 fans per game. In 2016, another five also topped 8,000 fans. Their consistent attendance rates have left little concern for the overall numbers and are promising for upcoming years.
The Pacific Coast League
Although no movies were made about teams in the Pacific Coast League, they’ve enjoyed loyal attendance over the past few years. Home to the affiliates over some of the most popular MLB teams like the Cubs and Dodgers, the Pacific Coast League is not to be thought of as a little brother to the International League.
Unlike the International League, the Pacific Coast League has only experienced drops in attendance from 2016 to 2015 and 2017 to 2018, for both total and per game. The only reason they average less fans than the International League is due to the smaller stadium sizes.
In 2018, only seven of the 16 didn’t break 6,000 fans per game. Again in 2017, only seven teams stood below 6,000 per game and three broke the 8,000-fan barrier. The Pacific Coast League has more consistent attendance throughout the entire league and looks to be in good shape for the next few seasons.
Between the two leagues, management is doing a fine job of deterring the issue that Major League Baseball is experiencing in drops in attendance.
The chart above is the best example of the steadiness in attendance, both leagues plateauing and seeming to hold strong in bringing in fans for each game.
Although this chart looks more threating with the drop offs, upon closer inspection it’s not as concerning. Although both are down in overall attendance, neither are by an overwhelming number and both can be improved as long as they continue to hold up the per game numbers.
Works cited: http://www.milb.com