MLB: On why the decline in ballpark attendance will continue

MLB's trumped up attentance problem (Photo: Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)

Major League Baseball attendance is trending downward. A multitude of reasons prevail. But in the end, does it really matter?

MLB is witnessing the ongoing refusal by fans to attend a game at a major league ballpark. The New York Times provides the indisputable facts:

Total attendance across 2,429 major league games during the regular season dropped by about 1 million fans this season to about 68.5 million, about 14 percent lower than a high of 79.5 million tickets sold in 2007. The drop for 2019 followed a 2018 season in which total attendance dipped below 70 million for the first time since 2003.Danielle Allentuck and Kevin Draper, New York Times

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spends an excessive amount of his time, resources, and energy on reducing the length of games as a reason for fan disinterest. Still, he’s only touching the surface of the problem.

Manfred has even taken steps to “make it happen” by introducing mandated rules to speed up the games, including, for instance, a rule going into effect this season limiting managers’ use of their bullpen.

MLB’s Shield To Protect Reality

But to get to the root of the problem, consider the following:

  • The costs for an average American family to attend a game are prohibitive. An interesting and revealing study conducted by explains:

A worker needs to spend 3.3 hours on the job to bring his family to a game in Kansas City, Phoenix, or San Diego, to name a few.

Not bad, but that changes to almost a full day’s work for a family living in Boston, New York, or Chicago.

Enjoying the game Red Sox fan (Photo: Boston Globe)
“Enjoying” the game Red Sox fan (Photo: Boston Globe)

And mind you, these costs represent the “best available” seats on a given day, which in antiquated Fenway Park, for instance, can mean seats facing in the opposite direction of the playing field.

And God forbid if you have two blooming twelve-year-olds with an appetite for way more than the allotted one hot dog…all bets are off.

  • Baseball is saturated by television – and while MLB insists it is “concerned” about declining attendance, the profits they and individual teams are reaping from newly negotiated contracts are astronomical.

Fangraphs provides the details. But trust me, no one connected to MLB cares whether our butts are in a seat at the ballpark, or in our favorite chair watching our 60″ HDTV in the comfort of our home where the bathroom is ten feet away instead of a stair climb and 200 feet down a crowded concourse and suspect conditions when we get there.

  • Elitism will continue to strike down teams in major cities. Organizations like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Cubs regularly sell-out home games. This means tickets sold and not “asses in the seats,” as George Steinbrenner was known to say.

Tune into a Yankees game on YES, for instance, and you’ll be amazed to find the centerfield camera panning a sea of empty seats – prime seats – that you or I would give an arm and a leg to occupy.

These prime seats then become the target of the stockbroker who purchased a season ticket but couldn’t identify Aaron Judge from DJ LeMahieu in a ray of pictures if his life depended on it.

StubHub – A fan’s last resort (Photo: Hollywood Reporter)

However the entrepreneur, he’ll “make his tickets available” to StubHub and other legalized scalping enterprises.

StubHub is the Yankees and most other team’s partner in crime wherein those tickets for what MLB calls the “resale” of tickets that magically come into our hands amidst a bidding war that rivals the value of a photo of the last sighting of Kim Kardashian.

Baseball’s Sad Tale Of Lying To Their Fanbase

It’s the ole one-two, look here not there the shuffle employed by MLB used to decry the decline of ballpark attendance, and how you poor fans have to keep your 12-year-old awake for an extra ten minutes or so due to the extravagant length of a ballgame.

As though spending an extra ten minutes at a major league game is going to change my mind about going to a game, I have grown to love and treasure.

They think we’re stupid because of the pea is inside the ball they don’t want us to find. We know better, but alas, will it really matter…

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.