Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Final Affiliate Attendance

Team, league, number of home games, average attendance, rank in league.

Team           League           G     Avg    LgRank
Durham International 72 6,783 8th/14
Montgomery Southern 66 4,042 3rd/10
Charlotte Florida State 60 2,855 1st/12
Bowling Green South Atlantic 66 3,530 8th/16
Hudson Valley New York-Penn 35 4,609 5th/14
Princeton Appalachian 28 926 7th/10
The Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Bowling Green Hot Rods deserve special recognition. The two first-year affiliates had huge gains in attendance over the teams they replaced from 2008.

The Stone Crabs had a total attendance of 171,314 this season, a 357% increase over the 47,944 the Vero Beach Devil Rays drew in 2008. The Hot Rods total attendance was 232,987 this year, a 380% increase over the 61,290 fans who saw the Columbus Catfish last year.

Congratulations to both teams and their fans on great inaugural seasons!

[Updated to add the rest of the teams season attendance vs. 2008:]

Durham Bulls: down 3.1%, same number of home games.
Montgomery Biscuits: down 9.5%, with one more home game in 2009.
Hudson Valley Renegades: up 7.2%, with one less home game in 2009.
Princeton Rays: up 7.1%, with two more home games in 2009.


  1. It would be interesting to know how the attendance is in terms of each stadium's capacity. For example, Wikipediea lists Dutchess County stadium as holding just 4494 people which would mean the Renegades average more people per game than they can seat. I doubt that is true, but my experience there is that the park is usually filled and tickets are not easy to get. How do they fill their park compared to other teams in the NY-Penn League? Is their park smaller or larger than the others?

    It is also interesting, and as a Florida resident disturbing, that the high A teams in that league have such a low average attendance. I go to Clearwater/Dunedin/Tampa games regularly and despite official claims of 1000+ fans at each game rarely see more than a few hundred attending. The #1 team in the FSL has a lower average attendance than the #8 & 5 teams in two of the lower levels.

  2. On Hudson Valley, I just assumed 'capacity' was the number of fixed seats and didn't include the picnic areas, which allowed them to have more people than seats. That's what I assumed, but since you asked I wanted to find out for sure, so I gave them a call.

    The nice lady on the phone confirmed my assumption. Capacity only includes box and reserved seats and general admission. Attendance includes all those plus the picnic areas.

    I like your idea of comparing parks within the leagues and looking at attendance vs. capacity. Sounds like a good offseason project for me, thanks for the idea!

    I agree with you that it does seem odd to have lower attendance at higher levels, especially with HV outdrawing Montgomery. There are several possible reasons. I doubt the average person knows or cares about the different levels, they just know minor league baseball.

    Competition is probably the biggest factor, other baseball, other sports, and other entertainment. For example, Princeton shares the area with Bluefield.

    Shorter seasons probably help the lower teams. If you go to 5 Princeton games it has more impact than if you go to 5 Durham games because Durham has so many more games to fill up. It's probably easier to sell season tickets in the short season leagues since they cost less with fewer games.

    The population of the area is another big reason. And possibly team history, such as the Durham Bulls.

    I'll look around for any articles or studies on the topic and post what I find. Thanks again for the ideas.

  3. Couple things to keep in mind with the season attendance. I have attended FSL games for the past few seasons here on the west coast of Florida and this is a few things I have noticed.

    1) Like you stated, the bay area teams show attendance of about 1,200 or so and it only seems to have a few people in the stands. One thing with this is an apperance thing, most of the ballparks in Florida are built with spring training in mind. They are designed for large capacity crowds 5,000-6,000 or more. 1,200 people scattered amongst those seats seems a lot less than recorded.

    2) Recorded attendance is on actual tickets sold. I found this to be true in 2007 while attending a Sarasota Reds playoff game against Clearwater. Box score showed 200+ in the stands, actual attendance appeared to be over 1,500. Ticket manager stated that the box score reflects ticket sold, no actual attendance. So comp tickets, family members do not count towards the attendance. Reverse the tables to opposite. Season ticket holders who buy a seat all season but only attend a handful of games are still a part of the attendance for each game.

    3) It is possible for an attendance level to be above the total seating capacity. This happens as many of the new stadiums have the general admission berms/boardwalks/standing-room areas. These do not factor into the seating capacity but do factor into the overall attendance.

    4) Plus the enviromental factors in Florida makes it harder to draw people to the park. 90+ temps, high humidity, rain and thunderstorms are a few things to keep people from watching the Rays on TV in the comfort of the A/C then heading to the park for a minor league in the elements. Not everyone is like me and would rather sit at the park then at home anyday. You also have many other tourism factors that keep people from the parks; theme parks, night life, etc are a major draw in the area. Florida is know for so much more than baseball. One of the biggest things that doomed the Sarasota franchise is too many people didn't even know the team existed. Too much focus on the arts and culture of Sarasota and not a mention of the quality baseball program that plays there every night.

    Hope that helps shed a little more to the numbers.

  4. Good points Jim, I was hoping you would comment since you've been close to the Stone Crabs and they seem to be the outlier here, only beating the P-Rays in attendance.

    I think family is another big factor. I had several free tickets this year that I couldn't use because of the weather; too cold/wet early on and too hot/sunny later. When you have little kids like me you can't just take them out in those conditions. And you can't leave the family at home for hours at a time too often either if you know what's good for you. :) And I'm sure the conditions in FL are more severe than NE OH, making it hard for younger families. And I would imagine younger families are a prime marketing target for minor league teams. I'm sure my family will be like others in a few years, the kids will be older and can stand the hot/cold better, or they will have their own activities, or they just won't want to hang around with dad.

    The other thing you mention, perception, is also true. You put 2,800 people (on average) in a 7,000 seat stadium, with some out of sight at the concessions/bathrooms, and it looks empty. If they had a 3,000 seat stadium, it would look like the place was packed every night. But as you said Jim, Charlotte Sports Park has a 2nd purpose, spring training, so they needed bigger.

    It reminds me of going to old Cleveland Municipal Stadium to see the Indians as a kid. There were games on certain weekends where they would draw 40-50k, but in that huge stadium (80k) designed for football, it looked empty since people were spread out through the good seats, the cheaper seats, and the bleachers. Plus sometimes many Cleveland fans were on the field rioting, which made the place feel a little empty. :)

    Per Anon's idea I have collected the data I need to post attendance vs. capacity for all of the Rays affiliates' leagues. Hope to get it all into an article in the next day or so. Thanks again Anon for the idea.