It's not too early to make some projections into attendance across Major League Baseball. Here's an early overall look.
Will overall MLB attendance increase?
After 3 years of attendance decreases, overall MLB attendance ended the year at 73.1 million. The number represents a 5.1 million fan drop off from 2007. I think overall league parity will help lead to an increase but only a slight one, pegging it at 74 million. Look for full attendance projections here on The Biz of Baseball shortly. The projected 3 and 4 team races in just about every division will help propel the league to an attendance increase. Look for MLB to surpass last season’s 73.1 million mark in 2011 thanks to parity.
Will MLB ticketing revenues increase?
No, I think that the decrease in ticket sales for all 4 teams in its two biggest markets (LA & NY), combined with the growth of the secondary market, and overall still recovering economy will stunt growth in the high end seating areas throughout the country and domino to an overall decrease. Only 5 teams are using dynamic pricing and given the ever changing ticketing landscape this is not a good thing for overall MLB revenues.
Will the Giants reach top 5 in overall attendance?
Last year the team finished 9th in attendance and won the World Series. Can they jump over 4 of Boston, Chicago, Minnesota, both LA’s, and St. Louis? I think they do, and sneak into the #4 spot by a nose over the Cubs . The reason? Boston and Minnesota sales will be flat along with a large decrease for both LA teams.
Will the Rangers outsell the Dodgers in overall ticket sales?
Last year the Dodgers sold 3.56 million tickets and the Rangers sold 2.5 million tickets. It would take a 20% increase from the Rangers after their World Series run and a 20% decrease for the Dodgers for this to happen. Based on my projections, I think this is within the realm of possibility and probable. The Dodgers sales will decrease with no Yankees on the schedule, playoffs last year, or Manny and Torre to speak of the story here will be the Rangers increase. The Rangers will beat the Dodgers in attendance in 2011.
How will the Madoff situation affect the Mets at the box office?
Many have written doomsday predictions about the Mets attendance for awhile now. Recent reports have said the club did not seek a second loan from MLB and the sale of a minority share continues to move along. I, for one, have changed my tune a bit on this but it’s more so due to the Phillies injuries than anything the Mets have done. As I mentioned before the team will be in the race much longer than anybody expected, but their honeymoon effect of Citi Field will be expiring. I think the team will see a decrease of 8-12% which will be smaller than many expect.
Can the Brewers sell 3 million tickets again?
The team accomplished this feat in 2008 and 2009 but followed it up with a 77 win season last year. The signing of Zack Greinke, trade for Shaun Marcum, plus a wide open division will make 3 million a possibility and I say it happens.
Will the Reds outsell the Angels in overall ticket sales?
The Reds sold 2 million tickets last season to end at 60% capacity and won the NL Central. The Angels went postseason 3 years in a row and then hosted the All-Star game. The team missed the playoffs but sold 3.2 million tickets. I can’t the Angels falling far enough, but the Reds sales should be up 20%.
What impact, if any, will the NFL lockout have on September ticket sales?
The NFL and MLB go head-to-head two Sundays in September in many MLB markets. If the NFL misses those games or fans animosity sets in, it could lead to an increase for MLB. I think the NFL effect is overrated personally. If you win and are in deep in September, the fans will show. If you aren’t, you can lose a total of 20-30,000 fans overall which in the grand scheme of the season isn’t as many as some make out this problem to be.
Can ticket sales get any worse in Pittsburgh and Cleveland?
Pittsburgh finished 27th in attendance at 1.6 million fan and the Indians were last at 1.4 million fans. I think things get worse in both cities as they continue to not compete on the field so they can’t compete off it.
What role will the now mainstream secondary market have on ticket sales?
This is going to become a very large MLB story as the year goes on. The question in many fans mind of “Why should I be season tickets or any ticket directly from the team?” will be one heard on the phone line of any MLB team this season. I will be writing an article on this coming up. It’s a very interesting topic that deserves more than this storyline piece provides. I think this year is this year that the soon to be expiring MLB-StubHub deal comes back to bite MLB in the butt as team ticket revenues are down.
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David Simmons is a graduate of the University of Central Florida who worked in the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers over 4 seasons and has a decade of ticketing experience.. He serves as CFO for Players For The Planet and currently resides in Baltimore. You can follow David on Twitter @davidesimmons
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