Amid Dodgers Chaos, Baseball Posts Attendance Increase in 2011

11:56 AM PST 09/29/2011 by Mike Barnes
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

MLB sells 73.4 million tickets, fifth most in history, as nine teams top 3 million mark during regular season.

Despite the worst season at the turnstiles at Dodger Stadium since 1992, Major League Baseball said Thursday that it sold the fifth-most tickets in the sport’s history in 2011.

MLB said it eclipsed the attendance of its 2009 and 2010 seasons by drawing 73,425,568 fans during the regular season that ended Wednesday night with three wild games that eliminated the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves from playoff contention while putting the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals in the postseason.

Attendance was 0.5 percent better than last year’s total of 73,054,407, which included six more games because of rainouts, and the total represented the most tickets sold since the 2008 season (78,588,004).

Overall, the past eight years are the eight best-attended seasons in big-league history.

Eighteen of the 30 teams finished the 2011 campaign with a rise in attendance, and nine clubs sold more than 3 million tickets.

The bump came despite unusually inclement weather throughout much of the year. The last time a season had more rainouts than this year’s 51 was 1997.

The first round of the playoffs begins Friday on TBS. Fox and TBS have the rights to the American and Nation League Championship series, respectively, and Fox will broadcast the World Series, scheduled to begin Oct. 19.

For the first time, the Philadelphia Phillies led baseball in overall and average attendance with franchise records of 3,680,718 tickets sold and a per-game average of 45,441 at Citizens Bank Park, which has now hosted 204 consecutive regular-season sellouts.

The New York Yankees topped the American League with 3,653,680 tickets sold, averaging 45,107 fans per game at Yankee Stadium.

In addition to the playoff-bound Phillies, the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers, also headed for the postseason, and the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants also set franchise records. The Red Sox sold out each of their 81 home games, extending their record streak of consecutive sellouts at Fenway Park to 712.

“The resiliency of our sport never ceases to amaze,” commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday. “Earning the fifth-highest attendance in history amid such challenging economic times reaffirms the incredible passion and enthusiasm of the fans ofour national pastime.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers, amid a bankruptcy filing and worries about fan safety at Dodger Stadium and with owner Frank McCourt embroiled in a bitter divorce, saw attendance decline 18 percent to 2,935,139 tickets sold, an average of 36,236 per game. The team failed to sell 3 million tickets in a nonstrike year for the first time since 1992 and was beaten at the gate by the Los Angeles Angels (3,166,321 tickets sold) for the first time.

The Houston Astros and Tampa Bay also saw significant attendance dips of 11 percent and an MLB-high 19 percent, respectively.

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