Baseball is red hot in Houston right now, but that isn't necessarily the case everywhere else. Overall attendance in Major League Baseball declined by four percent this season, to its lowest level since 2003. That included 17 of the 30 franchises showing a decline in tickets sold. The Astros were the outlier, with a 24 percent increase in attendance---the largest increase of any team. It started with a sellout on opening day and continued throughout the season at Minute Maid Park, with the Astros registering their highest season attendance and most sellouts since 2007.
A deeper look inside baseball's attendance numbers reveals they are skewed by two factors---bad weather and bad teams. "Eight teams lost 90 games, and when you look at where the attendance dropped---Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, the Texas Rangers, the Toronto Blue Jays were off almost a million," says Richard Justice, writer for MLB.com. He also points to abnormally cold and wet weather this season, with nearly as many games cancelled in the first month as were cancelled in all of last season.
Conversely, there is plenty of good news in the numbers as well. "Twelve teams drew at least two-and-a-half million, seven teams drew three million, the Astros just missed three million," says Justice. "And Milwaukee, smallest market in the major leagues, drew 2.85 million."
He reminds Houston fans that, while we're riding high, it wasn't so long ago we were on the other side of the attendance coin. "The Astros drew an eyelash under three million (2.98 million this season), but if you go back to just 2013 they were down 60 percent (from now), they drew less than two million, because the team wasn't competitive," says Justice. "It's a reminder to teams that if you're going to tank, if you're going to lose games on purpose to rebuild like the Astros did, you're going to pay a price for that."