As Interleague Play resumes on Friday, this weekendâ€™s schedule will feature the 100 millionth fan who has ever attended an Interleague Play game. Interleague Play is currently in its 13th season, having begun in 1997. Including the first weekend of 2009 Interleague Play (May 22nd-24th), Major League Baseball has drawn 99,368,556 fans to Interleague games.
â€śThe milestone of our 100 millionth fan demonstrates the great support that the fans of Major League Baseball have for Interleague Play,â€ť said Commissioner Selig. â€śMajor League Baseball has set its attendance record in four of the last five years, and Interleague Play has been a key to that success.â€ť
From 1997-2008, attendance at Interleague games was 11.8 percent higher than the average attendance for intraleague games. Interleague games drew an average of 33,252 fans per game, compared to a 29,739 average for intraleague games. In the 2008 season, Interleague Play drew a record average attendance of 35,587 fans per game.
First Weekend of Interleague Down from '08
And while attendance has remained flat for the most part leading up to the first weekend of Interleague Play in May, the first Interleague games of the season have drawn considerably less through the gate when compared to 2008. In both the 2008 and 2009 seasons, during the first weekend of Interleague, 42 games were played. Beginning on May 16 and running through to the 18th, Interleague attendance last season saw an average of 36,968 in paid attendance. Compare that to this season when the first weekend of Interleague ran from May 22-24 and average paid attendance was 33,531, a decline of 9.3 percent from 2008.
By comparison, 10 games in 2009 saw attendance over 40,000 while the 2008 season enjoyed 15 games over the 40,000 mark. At the other end of spectrum, there were 15 games during the first weekend of Interleague play in 2009 that saw attendance below 30,000 compared to only 4 below the 30,000 mark during Interleague's first weekend play last season.
Interleague Winning PercentagesÂ
In the first weekend of Interleague Play this season, the American League posted a 22-20 (.524) advantage. In 2008, the American League posted a 149-103 (.591) record in Interleague Play as 11 of the 14 A.L. Clubs finished over .500. The 2008 season marked the fifth straight season in which the A.L. won the season-series, extending its all-time Interleague lead to 1,536-1,420 (.520). The A.L. went 127-125 in 2004, 136-116 in 2005, 154-98 in 2006 and 137-115 in 2007 before the 149-103 mark last season.
Interleague Play will continue uninterrupted until its conclusion on Sunday, June 28th.
Source: Major League Baseball, Business of Sports Network research
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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