Dodgers attendance down in 2011

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers, long one of Major League Baseball's strongest draws at the gate, are seeing a substantial decline in attendance thus far in 2011.

Through June 1, home attendance at Dodger Stadium is down a total of 221,984 from last season, an average 7,161 fewer fans per game. This represents a 16.7 percent overall drop, which is by far the worst in baseball this season.

Attendance across MLB through Monday is down 381,786 from last season, an average of 426 fewer fans per game.

During a difficult economic period, 18 MLB teams have seen a decline in attendance but none have seen a drop as dramatic as the Dodgers. A combination of factors has likely contributed to the Dodgers' poor attendance, including prolonged divorce proceedings between owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, the tragic Opening Day beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, who is still in a coma, and a struggling on-field product.

The New York Mets (4,769), Seattle Mariners (4,648) and Tampa Bay Rays (4,086) are the only other MLB teams that have seen a decrease of at least 4,000 fans per game this season.

The Dodgers declined to comment on the team's attendance and would not disclose season ticket information.

Major League Baseball appointed former Texas Rangers' president Tom Schieffer as an overseer of the business of the Los Angeles franchise on April 25, creating some uncertainty about future ownership of the team.

"Until the McCourts are not the story, the Dodgers on the field cannot be the story," said David Carter, executive director of USC's Sports Business Institute. "I think the recovery would be swift with new ownership because there are so many people around Southern California that revere the franchise and have loved the Dodgers for generations. The minute the message changes and they ask for another shot it will be a breath of fresh air and I think the fans will return to Chavez Ravine rapidly."

Arash Markazi is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.