Wednesday December 6, 2023

MLB Attendance Surges Past 70 Million, Tops League Projections

  • League posts best year-over-year increase at the gate since 1993
  • New rule changes are a key factor in helping attract fans
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
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Major League Baseball’s 2023 attendance resurgence beat even the most optimistic internal projections.

After predicting a full-season lift of 6% to 8% in June, the league ended the regular season with a total attendance of 70.75 million, a 9.6% increase. The total is the MLB’s largest since 2017 and the first above 70 million since that same year. 

Aside from COVID-impacted seasons, the 2023 figure is also the greatest year-over-year increase at the gate since 1993, when MLB expanded from 26 to 28 teams. 

A key factor in this year’s attendance bump was a trio of new on-field rules that introduced a new pitch clock, larger bases, and a ban on extreme defensive shifts. Aimed at eliminating dead time within games and creating a crisper, more action-filled product more relevant to younger fans, those changes helped generate a massive 24-minute reduction in average game times to two hours, 40 minutes — MLB’s lowest such number since 1985.

Also contributing were an influx of newly competitive teams, with Arizona, Baltimore, Miami, Minnesota, and Texas all returning to the postseason after multiyear absences. Each of those teams were up by double-digit percentages in attendance. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers led the league in attendance for the 10th consecutive year with a total of 3.84 million. The Oakland A’s ranked last with a figure of 832,352 and are now preparing for a formal league vote next month on their Las Vegas relocation bid. 

Seventeen clubs reached 2.5 million in attendance, matching a league record, while 11 separate weekends reached 1.5 million — a figure more than twice the combined total of five such weekends for the 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons.

Overall, 26 of MLB’s 30 teams posted total attendance increases in 2023. The Dodgers recorded a marginal decline on that perennially league-leading total, and St. Louis, Washington, and the Chicago White Sox each posted disappointing campaigns on the field. 

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