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2021 summer collegiate attendance by average

Ballpark Digest squareWith the addition of MiLB and independent teams to the mix and pandemic effects still being felt, the 2021 summer-collegiate numbers look much different when compared to 2019. Here are the averages.

First off: we have a new leader in the standings, where the Savannah Bananas led summer-collegiate teams in per-game attendance. The Bananas have a unique business model–the entire ballpark operates on an all-you-care-to-eat basis when it comes to ballpark staples–and team owner Jesse Cole is certainly one of the hardest-working people in all of baseball. His devotion to an elevated fan experience is noteworthy, and his work on livening the game has led to a devoted fan base.

When MLB contracted MiLB for the 2021 season, the entire Appalachian League shifted to the summer-collegiate world, several Short Season A and Double-A teams were shifted to the MLB Draft League, and other Short Season A NY-Penn League teams moved to other summer-collegiate leagues. The addition of those circuits and teams certainly swelled the ranks of summer-collegiate teams. And while the Appy League teams may have lost dates, many experienced a jump in per-game averages–as a whole, in fact, the Appalachian League saw a 10 percent rise in per-game average over 2019.

(Speaking of 2019: We decided to base our comparisons on the last full season, 2019. Many of these teams operated in 2020, albeit under very limited circumstances.)

Alas, we can’t bring you all the attendance figures for the six-team MLB Draft League: the league did not track attendance, and only two teams responded to our emailed requests for figures. But of the other former MiLB teams making the jump to summer collegiate, there were some definite success stories: under new ownership, the Batavia MuckDogs saw a substantial rise in per-game attendance, for instance, and the Clinton LumberKings saw a 28 percent increase in per-game attendance as well. (Not the same in Norwich or Auburn.)

One huge surprise: as you scroll to the end of this extremely long article, you’ll find we also listed the major summer-collegiate leagues and compiled their per-game averages. (We only listed the leagues where every team reported attendance.) Typically this ranking is led by the Northwoods League, but in 2021 we have a new champion: the venerable Cape Cod League paced the standings.

As we compiled these numbers and had a chance to chat with many team owners, front-office workers and league commissioners, one sentiment stood out: COVID-19 had a huge impact on attendance, even when teams were cleared for full capacity. (Conversely, most front-office types working for a team shifting from MiLB to summer collegiate did not see that being a huge factor in any lower numbers.) Another issue: virtually every team was hamstrung by uncertainty entering the season. This limited promotions planning, and when teams did receive permission for full houses, supply-chain issues limited those efforts as well. Take, for example, the Madison Mallards, the perennial champ on the summer-collegiate attendance front, replaced by the Bananas. The team began the season facing capacity restrictions at the Duck Pond, and when those were finally lifted, it turns out fans were still wary of attending an event. And with uncertainty at the beginning of the season, group-sales efforts were hamstrung. Just because fans can show up does not mean they will show up, a lesson we’re seeing on the pro soccer front this season. (Indeed: check out our Soccer Stadium Digest site to see how MLS, NWSL, USL Championship and USL League One numbers are all down significantly this year.)

Canada-U.S. border restrictions also impacted these numbers. The Canadian teams in the West Coast League did not partake of league play, while much of the Western Canadian Baseball League also skipped the 2021 season. A few teams in that league did play. Traditionally the Okotoks Dawgs are among the collegiate attendance leaders, and there was indeed baseball at Seaman Stadium with two Dawgs teams competing. We anticipate the likes of Okotoks and Victoria returning for the 2022 summer-collegiate season.

1Savannah BananasCPL86,407233,7574,205-0.11
2Madison MallardsNorthWL124,407363,4506,080-0.43
3Pulaski River TurtlesAppL^61,980203,1202,8210.11
4State College SpikesMLBDL^ 92,447322,8893,217-0.10
5Newport GullsNECBL48,698202,4352,4090.01
6Elmira PioneersPGL40,321172,3722,821-0.16
7Mahoning Valley ScrappersMLBDL^68,440292,3602,745-0.14
8Clinton LumberKingsProL^62,872272,3291,8160.28
9Johnson City DoughboysAppL^59,200262,2772,519-0.10
10St. Joseph MustangsMINK53,904242,2462,469-0.09
11Chillicothe PaintsProL62,599282,2362,0370.10
12Chatham AnglersCCL39,839182,2131,6900.31
13Amarillo Sod SquadTCL41,509192,185NANA
14Macon BaconCPL42,979202,1492,344-0.08
15La Crosse LoggersNorthWL73,565362,0432,603-0.22
16Hyannis Harbor HawksCCL36,327182,0181,2390.63
17Orleans FirebirdsCCL36,527191,9221,4970.28
18Kenosha KingfishNorthWL67,529361,8762,520-0.26
19Kalamazoo GrowlersNorthWL67,161361,8662,570-0.27
20Portland PicklesWCL43,985241,8332,252-0.19
21Danville DansProL44,838251,7941,5560.15
22Batavia MuckdogsPGL^40,888231,7787841.27
23Bismarck LarksNorthWL63,028361,7511,889-0.07
24Harwich MarinersCCL30,953181,7201,0970.57
25Vermont Lake MonstersFCBL^63,104371,7062,247-0.24
26Burlington Sock PuppetsAppL^44,911271,6631,2160.37
27Traverse City Pit SpittersNorthWL59,464361,6521,674-0.01
28Cotuit KettleersCCL27,985171,6461,1980.37
29Falmouth CommodoresCCL27,229171,6029690.65
30Green Bay BooyahNorthWL50,591351,4451,667-0.13
31tVermont MountaineersNECBL28,501201,4259150.56
31tCorvallis KnightsWCL34,200241,4251,821-0.22
33Martha’s Vineyard SharksNECBL28,410201,4211,3090.09
34Bellingham BellsWCL33,853241,4111,772-0.20
35St. Cloud RoxNorthWL50,641361,4071,633-0.14
36Lafayette AviatorsProL40,985301,3668920.53
37Mankato MoonDogsNorthWL49,141361,3651,3430.02
38Wilmington SharksCPL36,332281,2981,2440.04
39Williamsport CrosscuttersMLBDL^38,324301,2771,944-0.34
40Greeneville FlyboysAppL^28,359231,2331,322-0.07
41Worcester BraveheartsFCBL36,875301,2292,574-0.52
42Kingsport AxmenAppL^24,542201,2278960.37
43Peninsula PilotsCPL27,602231,2001,0780.11
44Bristol State LinersAppL^22,561191,1875861.03
45Brewster WhitecapsCCL21,278181,1829620.23
46Wisconsin WoodchucksNorthWL40,040341,1781,439-0.18
47Lexington County BlowfishCPL30,239261,1631,538-0.24
48Nashua Silver KnightsFCBL33,293291,1481,156-0.01
49Morehead City MarlinsCPL26,273231,1428790.30
50Wilson TobsCPL27,544251,1021,382-0.20
51Wisconsin Rapids RaftersNorthWL39,645361,1011,354-0.19
52Keene Swamp BatsNECBL21,775201,0891,296-0.16
53New Britain BeesFCBL#31,509291,0872,080-0.48
54Eau Claire ExpressNorthWL38,897361,0801,312-0.18
55Bourne BravesCCL19,415181,0799340.16
56Springfield SlidersProL29,001271,0741,0310.04
57Holly Springs SalamandersCPL31,407311,0131,079-0.06
58Danville OtterbotsAppL^25,737269909090.09
59tY-D Red SoxCCL17,765189871,330-0.26
59tO’Fallon HootsProL23,682249871555.37
61North Shore NavigatorsNECBL*18,899209451,222-0.23
62Lakeshore ChinooksNorthWL33,981369441,274-0.26
63Willmar StingersNorthWL33,661369351,006-0.07
64W. Nebraska PioneersExL28,856319311,164-0.20
65Ridgefield RaptorsWCL21,943249141,198-0.24
66Pittsfield SunsFCBL19,828229011,145-0.21
67Burlington BeesProL^25,080288961,053-0.15
68Asheboro CopperheadsCPL18,746218937740.15
69Fond du Lac Dock SpidersNorthWL29,00734853975-0.13
70tWaterloo BucksNorthWL29,38735840972-0.14
70tTri-City Chili PeppersCPL18,46922840NANA
72Norwich Sea UnicornsFCBL^28,507348381,901-0.56
73Rochester HonkersNorthWL30,032368341,140-0.27
74Elizabethton River RidersAppL^20,802258328110.03
75Port Angeles LeftiesWCL19,75924823995-0.17
76HP-Thomasville HiTomsCPL20,818268011,043-0.23
77Kokomo JackrabbitsNorthWL28,718367981,036-0.23
78Florence RedwolvesCPL18,18223791812-0.03
79Quincy GemsProL21,97228785919-0.15
80Valley Blue SoxNECBL12,903177591,371-0.45
81Bend ElksWCL17,358237551,191-0.37
82San Antonio Flying ChanclasTCL16,58522754NANA
83Normal CornBeltersProL16,839237327050.04
84tRockford RivetsNorthWL25,212357201,021-0.29
84tCasper HorseheadsExL20,16728720739-0.03
86Bluefield Ridge RunnersAppL^16,484237176740.06
87NWI OilmenMCL16,42723714NANA
88Charlottesville TomSoxVBL11,675176873620.90
89Westfield StarfiresFCBL17,13925686882-0.22
90Badlands Big SticksExL21,91232685743-0.08
91REX BaseballProL15,72423684797-0.14
92Battle Creek BombersNorthWL23,23134683852-0.20
93Princeton WhistlepigsAppL^16,30324679731-0.07
94Duluth HuskiesNorthWL23,90236664944-0.30
95Walla Walla SweetsWCL 15,70824655997-0.34
96The SpartanburgersCPL18,22228651NANA
97Souris Vall. Sabre DogsExL18,85130628653-0.04
98Wareham GatemenCCL11,45519603828-0.27
99Illinois Valley Pistol ShrimpProL16,747285981293.64
100Yakima Valley PippinsWCL14,11824588891-0.34
101Upper Valley NighthawksNECBL9,244165784080.42
102Mining City TommyknockersExL16,16629557NANA
103tBrockton RoxFCBL13,567255431,310-0.59
103tCape CatfishProL15,75329543633-0.14
105Ocean State WavesNECBL10,50720525714-0.26
106Cowlitz Black BearsWCL11,94624498590-0.16
107Martinsville MustangsCPL12,41325497781-0.36
108Hastings SodbustersExL14,40330480572-0.16
109Sanford MainersNECBL8,583184774530.05
110Alton River DragonsProL12,81128458NANA
111Pierre TrappersExL13,09229451700-0.36
112Bethesda Big TrainCalR7,605174474330.03
113Wenatchee AppleSoxWCL10,41024434936-0.54
114Leesburg LightningFCSL6,44915430557-0.23
115Spearfish SasquatchExL12,979314193800.10
116North Adams SteepleCatsNECBL7,78620389518-0.25
117Forest City OwlsCPL10,10026388390-0.01
118Waynesboro GeneralsVBL6,550173852190.76
119Champion City KingsProL9,83826378411-0.08
120Bristol BluesFCBL6,71220336979-0.66
121Royal Oak LeprechaunsGLSCL6,95121331NANA
122Winchester RoyalsVBL5,26316329445-0.26
123West Virginia MinersProL8,42527312785-0.60
124Front Royal CardinalsVBL5,78419304313-0.03
125Lima LocosGLSCL5,04117297648-0.54
126Danbury WesternersNECBL5,15218286348-0.18
127Johnstown Mill RatsProL7,65627284NANA
128Hamilton JoesGLSCL5,19320260392-0.34
129New Market RebelsVBL4,41018245NANA
130Fremont MooExL7,37131238240-0.01
131SS-T T-BoltsCalR3,039132341880.24
132Auburn DoubledaysPGL^4,821212301,158-0.80
133Winnipesaukee MuskratsNECBL4,07018226292-0.23
134Cincinnati SteamGLSCL3,53916221397-0.44
135Wheat City Whiskey JacksExL6,39229220365-0.40
136Genesee RapidsNYCBL3,26916204291-0.30
137Richmond JazzGLSCL3,83820192336-0.43
138Woodstock River BanditsVBL3,07518171NANA
139Nevada GriffonsMINK2,14913165184-0.10
140Jersey PilotsACBL1,830111591430.11
141Michigan MonarchsGLSCL3,18321152671.27
142Sioux Falls SunfishExL3,55431115NANA
143Mystic SchoonersNECBL2,13820107153-0.30
144Grand Lake MarinersGLSCL2,11521101NANA
145Alexandria AcesCalR1,4601597670.45
146tHornell DodgersNYCBL1,7391992163-0.44
146tD.C. GraysCalR1,4741692600.53
148Canyon County SpudsExL2,2513173NANA
149Sandusky Ice HaulersGLSCL1,3451971NANA
150Joliet GeneralsMCL1,0641667NANA
151Crestwood PanthersMCL9691854NANA
152Southland VikingsMCL1,2912454NANA
153Rochester RidgemenNYCBL8301652NANA
154Chicago American GiantsMCL8352042NANA
155Jet Box Baseball ClubGLSCL6451836NANA
156tOneonta OutlawsPGL55017321,511-0.98
156tGaithersburg GiantsCalR5071632100-0.68
156tMCL MinutemenMCL7432332NANA
159Covington LumberjacksVBL4001429NANA
160South County BravesCalR444172645-0.42
161Sanford River RatsFCSL2261219242-0.92
162Winter Garden SqueezeFCSL2821219190-0.90
163Niagara PowerPGL3001718136-0.87
164Galion GradersGLSCL275171678-0.79
165Baton Rouge RougarouTCL2431714NANA
166Xenia ScoutsGLSCL16619990.00

^Played 2019 in MiLB.
#Played 2019 in Atlantic League.
*Played 2019 as Hannibal Hoots.
**Played 2019 in the Futures League.

ACBL = Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League
AppL = Appalachian League
CalR = Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League
CCL = Cape Cod League
CPL = Coastal Plain League
EXL = Expedition League

FCBL = Futures Collegiate Baseball League
FCSL = Florida Collegiate Summer League
GLSCL = Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League

MCL = Midwest Collegiate League
MINK = M.I.N.K. League

MLBDL = MLB Draft League
NECBL = New England Collegiate Baseball League

NorthWL = Northwoods League
NYCBL = New York Collegiate Baseball League
PCBL = Pioneer Collegiate Baseball League
PGL = Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League

ProL = Prospect League
TCL = Texas Collegiate League
VBL = Valley Baseball League
WCL = West Coast League 

Here are the league averages. We only list leagues where every team is reporting attendance.

Cape Cod League268,7731801,4931,1820.26
Appalachian League320,8792331,3771,2540.10
Northwoods League981,0407471,3131,642-0.20
Coastal Plain League425,7333701,1511,351-0.15
Futures League243,8222311,0561,331-0.21
Prospect League414,8224289698560.13
Expedition League165,994362459611-0.25

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