MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

Oct 5, 2022, 11:33 PM | Updated: Oct 8, 2022, 7:10 am
A fan holds up a cutout of the head of Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) duri...

A fan holds up a cutout of the head of Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) during a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

              Two Washington Nationals fans sit and watch the game against the Atlanta Braves surrounded by empty seats during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Washington. The Braves won 8-2. (AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel)
            
              A fan holds up a cutout of the head of Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) during a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
            
              Fans watch as New York Yankees' Aaron Judge comes to bat during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
            
              Fans hold "K" signs after Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara (22) walks off the field after he struck out Washington Nationals catcher Riley Adams in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Even with homer chases by Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 2022 average of 26,843 fans per game throughout the league was down 5.3% from the 2019 average of 28,339.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics — who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors — finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. It was a huge reason why an average of only 18,901 fans came to games.

No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years — even before the pandemic — after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.

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MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels