Baseball is a father and son game. If you’ve ever played the game or seen Field of Dreams, you understand the concept. So, you’d think a day dedicated to Dads would act as a natural attendance bonus day on the MLB schedule.
At first glance, this appears to be the case. The Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates all drew more than 25 percent above their usual Sunday average. Overall, the league drew more than 52,000 more fans (or 9.99 percent more) than it would on a normal Sunday game. Only two teams, the Florida Marlins and Chicago Cubs, drew less than their Sunday average (Chicago missed by 169 fans). However, we must keep in mind that improved weather and quality matchups may play a role in swaying the Sunday attendance statistic.
Teams typically draw better on weekends, especially during times kids are in school. Father’s Day showed improvement when compared to weekend games (typically between 14-17 dates per team) drawing 32,562 more fans than usual or 6.2 percent. The Colorado Rockies drew 20 percent more on Father’s Day than the average weekend day (Friday, Saturday or Sunday) while Pittsburgh and Washington drew more than 20 percent above average.
But, as with the Sunday attendance data, it may be inaccurate due to outside factors. The stat that gives us the best idea of whether Father’s Day was the expected bonus is the comparison to previous weekend games within the same series. For example, Detroit played at home against Arizona Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If Father’s Day were a boost, Detroit would see increased attendance Sunday because all the factors (weather, school being out etc.) remained the same. Within the series, more teams fell short on Father’s Day than gained. Overall, the league drew 1.7 percent less, but in Florida, Washington (stats affected by Strasburg start), Pittsburgh and Atlanta, the attendances were more than 10 percent less than the previous two games of the series.
Last year on Father’s Day MLB drew significantly better than it did in 2010. Nearly 38,000 more fans came to MLB ballparks in 2009 on Father’s Day. It is possible that better ’09 matchups may have caused the differences, but six teams drew over 40,000 in ’09 while only four matched the feat in ’10.
Attendances have been a major storyline thus far in 2010. Many teams count on special dates such as Father’s Day to offer them a spike at the turnstiles, the expected jump only existed for Colorado. The Rockies drew 23 percent more fans on Father’s Day than the previous two games of the weekend series. Outside of the Rockies, the next highest jump was the Toronto Blue Jays who were up eight percent from the previous series games.
Matthew Coller is a senior staff member of the Business of Sports Network, and is a freelance writer. He can be followed on Twitter
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