Finish Gives Selig Hope

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(from Sports Business Journal October 7, 2013) Even though Major League Baseball faced a one percent decline in attendance this year, Commissioner Bud Selig is predicting that 2014 will see a strong rebound.  At the end of the regular season this year, MLB records showed a total attendance of 74.03 million fans.  This is the first time since 2010 that the sport has seen a decline in the “numbers at the gates.”  Part of the matter is due to the fact that MLB faced 34 rain outs before the All Star break.  This is 62 percent above the 21 total postponements from last year’s season.

Selig stated, “We were just getting killed in the first half, even in places where we don’t get killed. I must admit I worried a lot about this early in the year.”  It’s typical that ticket sales trail off after the peak summer months and rally again when September swings around.  In fact MLB’s new playoff format, which features two wild card teams in each league, was designed in a way that would help increase attendance at the end of the season.  The Los Angeles Dodgers led the sport with 3.74 million fans in attendance.  They were followed by the St. Louis Cardinals who brought in 3.67 million, and the team with the lowest attendance was the Tampa Bay Rays (that is, before the postseason).  They drew in 1.5 million fans.

Although the league’s new national television contracts go into effect next year and are expected to double MLB’s annual revenue from national television to more than 1.5 billion a year, ticket sales and attendance are vital to the sport.  Commissioner Selig has faith that attendance will be up again as he approaches his final season saying, “…by the last week of the season, we were packing them in, and how this sport rallied is just tremendous. It gives us a lot of momentum going into next year.”