Sox Attendance Up 165,000 in 1999
Despite the majors’ highest ticket price, the Red Sox drew
2,446,328 fans to Fenway in 1999, an increase of 165,000 over
1998. The total was only the sixth highest in Sox history,
though: they drew larger crowds every year from 1988 through
1992, with a peak of 2,562,435 in 1991.
Two factors stand out as possible causes for the increase. The
Yankees didn’t run off and hide from the division the way
they did in 1998, and some fans may have bought season tickets to
secure seats for the All-Star Game.
The rest of MLB wasn’t so fortunate, as overall attendance
declined for the first time since the 1994-95 strike. The Mark
and Sammy Show remained MLB’s biggest draw: even though
neither club played a meaningful game after May, the Cards and
Cubs both set new home attendance records and finished one-two in
In fact, more than six million fans paid to watch the Cardinals.
At the other end of the spectrum, the pathetic Expos played
before fewer than half as many spectators. Playing amid constant
rumors that the club would be moved to Washington, Montreal
became the first team since 1985 to draw fewer than 800,000 fans
at home. That year only 655,181 paid to see the Indians –
about what the Tribe now attracts for a two-week home stand.
Not surprisingly, Cleveland led the majors in percentage of seats
filled. The Indians sold out the entire season before Opening
Day. No one else came close to that record, but the Orioles, Red
Sox, Cubs and Rockies all sold more than 85% of their seats.
(This may be bad news for Sox fans: by playing to 90% of
capacity, the Sox sent a message to John Harrington that the
market will support another price increase.) Eleven clubs sold
fewer than half their seats.
Clubs on the verge of moving into new parks did very well at the
gate. Seattle, which moved in midseason, enjoyed a 10% jump in
attendance even as the team crumbled, and fans in Detroit, San
Francisco, and Houston turned out in greater numbers to bid
farewell to their old parks
On the other side of the ledger, the two 1998 expansion teams
suffered the greatest drop in attendance. The decline was
especially ominous in Arizona, where the Diamondbacks won 100
games but lost 600,000 fans. Maybe Jerry Colangelo needs to trade
for McGwire or Sosa...
Copyright © 2000 Doug Pappas. All
Originally published in the April 2000 Boston Baseball
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