|Monday, September 30
Major league attendance down 6.1 percent
NEW YORK -- Average attendance in the major leagues dropped 6.1 percent this year, its second straight decline and the biggest decrease since the season after the 1994-95 strike.
This year's average of 28,168 was the majors' lowest since 1996 and was down from 30,012 last year, according to figures compiled by the commissioner's office.
Talk of a possible strike dominated baseball news in July and August, perhaps contributing to a decline that worsened in the final six weeks of the season.
After drawing a record average of 31,612 in 1994 before the start of a 232-day strike, baseball had a 20.1 percent drop the following year to 25,260.
Fans gradually came back, with the average rising each season from 1996-98.
Twenty of the 30 teams had declines this year. The largest loss was experienced by the Milwaukee Brewers, the team owned by the family of commissioner Bud Selig. In their second season at Miller Park, the Brewers saw attendance decline by 841,888, 30 percent of 2001's team-record 2,811,041.
Pittsburgh, in its second season at PNC Park, had the second-biggest decline, a 651,456 drop from 2,436,126.
Cleveland, experiencing its worst season since moving to Jacobs Field in 1994, dropped 558,583 from 3,175,523. Other large dropoffs were experienced by Texas, Colorado, Detroit, Baltimore and Houston.
Seattle, despite missing the playoffs, drew a major-league high 3,540,658, an average of 43,712. The New York Yankees were second, drawing a team-record 3,465,807, an average of 43,323.
San Francisco led the National League at 3,253,203, an average of 40,163, followed by World Series champion Arizona at 3,198,985, an average of 39,494.
Six teams topped 3 million, down from seven last year.
The Diamondbacks had the largest increase, a rise of 458,431.
Montreal, playing perhaps its final season there before a move, drew a major league-low 812,545, an average of 10,031. That did represent an increase from last year, though.
Florida drew 813,118, an average of 10,038. On Sunday the Marlins announced a crowd of 28,599 -- its second largest at home this year -- but only about 8,000 fans appeared to be in the ballpark.
Marlins president David Samson said a longtime fan of the team who lives in South Florida bought more than 15,000 tickets that went unused -- which enabled the Marlins to surpass the Expos. Samson said the fan wasn't affiliated with the organization but declined to identify him.