Though sponsorships and revenues are down, fans are still coming out to ballgames, as affiliated teams report just a tiny dip in attendance this season.Minor League Baseball attracted over 7.7 million fans in June to go over the 20.5 million mark for the season. The 176 clubs that charge admission reduced the difference in the average crowd compared to last year from 30 less patrons an opening through May to only 19 through last month. The industry’s 3,986 average gathering is 0.5 percent less than the 4,005 average through June 2008.
"For Minor League Baseball to see the 2009 attendance flat compared to last year at this point is a testament to the tremendous work of our teams, our executives and, most importantly, the loyalty of our fans," said Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner. "To see the fans enjoying Minor League Baseball at near record numbers in this economy speaks volumes about our product and its place in our country."
A total of 20,509,974 fans attended the 5,145 openings through June. Last year’s figure of 22,722,519 during the same period was accumulated with 529 more openings.
The International League Columbus Clippers led Minor League Baseball with an average of 9,341 fans a game. The Sacramento River Cats (8,986); Lehigh Valley IronPigs (8,843); Round Rock Express (8,760); and Dayton Dragons (8,562) round out the top five drawing full-season clubs, based on average.
The Frisco RoughRiders (8,374); Corpus Christi Hooks (6,320); and Reading Phillies (6,131) are the top three Double-A clubs.
The Dayton Dragons are in their familiar spot atop Class-A, followed by the Greensboro Grasshoppers (5,978) and Lakewood BlueClaws (5,784). The Brooklyn Cyclones led all short-season clubs with their 8,654 average.
Eight of the 15 leagues averaged more per opening than they did in 2008 through June, led by the Pioneer League’s 18 percent hike. Other leagues showing improvement are the Florida State (10.7 percent); New York-Penn (8.0 percent); California (5.9 percent); Eastern (4.0 percent); International (3.6 percent); Midwest (2.5 percent); and Northwest (0.5 percent).
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