MLB beats projections to set highest average attendance in 30 years

Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, USA

Featured image credit: Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, USA

Featured image credit: Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Major League Baseball (MLB) has reported its highest average attendance per game for a regular season in three decades, with the organisation pointing to the impact of rule changes for other positive ballpark statistics.

The recently completed 2023 regular season featured a comprehensive set of new rules resulting in increased action on the field and a quicker pace of play. Indeed, games in 2023 averaged two hours, 39 minutes and 49 seconds, the shortest since 1985 and a reduction of 24 minutes from last season. Only nine games extended beyond three-and-a-half hours, down from 390 back in 2021.

MLB finished the 2023 season with attendance of 70,747,365, which is up 9.6% over last year’s total (64,556,636), surpassing the 70 million mark for the first time since 2017. MLB had projected a 6% to 8% uplift back in June.

The average attendance per game (29,295) increased by 9.1% marking the highest percentage growth in 30 years, not including COVID-impacted seasons, dating back to the 1993 expansion from 26 to 28 clubs.

Seventeen teams registered attendance over 2.5 million, matching the most in MLB history.  Eight teams recorded attendance of more than three million fans for the first time in 10 years with 80% of the league (24 out of 30 clubs) registering attendance gains. The Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals and Chicago White Sox were the only teams to buck this trend.

However, the Dodgers still retained attendance leadership for the 10th consecutive year with a total of 3.84 million fans watching games at Dodger Stadium. The Oakland A’s ranked bottom with a figure of 832,352. The franchise is awaiting a formal League vote next month on its proposed relocation to a new ballpark in Las Vegas.

Eleven weekends drew more than 1.5 million in attendance, which is the most since 2017.  The previous four full seasons (2018-2019, 2021-2022) combined for a total of five weekends that topped that number. 

Meanwhile, the MLB Ballpark app, which the League claims maintained its status as the No.1 sports app in the App Store for most of the 2023 season, registered an 11% increase in ticket scans per game thanks to the increase in attendance and greater adoption of digital ticketing.