AUGUST 25, 1983 | LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY • A million fans can’t be wrong. The Louisville Redbirds became the first minor league baseball team to draw more than a million fans in a season on this date in 1983. Not long before that, a million was considered good for a major league team.
Louisville, the St. Louis Cardinals’ triple-A team, reached 1,006,103 in attendance with a crowd of more than 31,000. The Redbirds outdrew three major league teams that year – the Cleveland Indians (768,941), Seattle Mariners (813,537) and Minnesota Twins (858,939).
Minor league baseball experienced an attendance renaissance at the end of the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st. According milb.com, the official website of minor league baseball, minor league baseball draws more fans than the NBA or the NFL. By drawing 39.8 million in 2004 it broke the total attendance record of 39.6 million fans set in 1949. Minor League attendance peaked in 2008 at 43.2 million.
While attendance has dropped in the last decade or so, it remains above 40 million each year.
[Minor league baseball does not include numerous independent leagues around the country that are not associated with major league teams.]
Minor League attendance 2016
Minor League Baseball history
Major League Baseball attendance
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA • ‘If you take away seats, they will come,’ seemed to be the intention when the Oakland A’s announced on this date in 2005 that they will no longer sell seats to the upper deck in McAfee Coliseum (now called Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum).
At a time when ballparks like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are squeezing more seats into their venues, the A’s are trying to pretend an upper deck of empty seats doesn’t exist. The move reduced the A’s ballpark’s capacity, at the time, to the lowest in the major leagues.
It was another act in the drama playing out in the East Bay over a new place for the A’s to play. Team president Michael Crowley told reporters back in 2005, “Our goal is to create a more intimate ballpark atmosphere and bring our seating capacity in line to what we have proposed for our new venue.”
While the team seems to annually over-achieve on the field the A’s have struck out on a new ballpark deal. But as of December 2016 the A’s have restructured their leadership with the goal of making it happen this time.
Comcast SportsNet, “Futuristic, Transforming Stadiums offer Intriguing Solutions For Oakland,” by Andy Dolich, December 19, 2016
San Jose Mercury News, December 16, 2013
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