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Archive for April 21st, 2011

Scenes like the one above have been more common this April.

Sparsely attended ballparks have been a relatively common sight at the start of this baseball season, which has inevitably led to the obligatory round of articles lamenting the sport’s decline.

Instead of jumping to a knee jerk conclusion, CNBC’s Darren Rovell actually took a look at the early season attendance figures and reported only a small 1% decline. According to more recent data from Baseball-reference.com, the drop stands at 2.5%, but still nothing indicative of a major negative trend.

Although any decline shouldn’t be dismissed, such a low percentage can easily be explained by a variety of variables, especially when the sample size is only two weeks. For example, there have already been 12 rainouts, as noted by Maury Brown, and that doesn’t even take into account the unseasonably cold weather that has plagued much of the country.

Before the season started, Commissioner Bud Selig expressed optimism about baseball breaking its current attendance record of 79.5 million, which was set in 2007. Since then, however, the number of fans filling the seats has slowly declined. The slumping U.S. economy has likely played a significant role in this gradual pullback, but it seems as if another development over that time period may also be to blame.

Major League Baseball Attendance, 1901-1910

Source: http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com

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