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Major League Baseball attendance dropped 4 per cent this year, continuing a steady decline for “America’s Pastime.” It’s the lowest league-wide attendance since 2003 and the largest single-season drop in a decade.
What does that mean for a team’s bottom line? Bloomberg News crunched some numbers to get a better understanding. While some clubs saw a jump in attendance, 17 of the 30 franchises sold fewer tickets than they did last year. Using average ticket prices from Team Marketing Report, that comes to about US$93.7 million in lost ticket revenue in 2018.
Teams with the largest drops include the Miami Marlins (down US$24.5 million) and the Toronto Blue Jays (down US$22.9 million). (The Marlins recently changed the way they report attendance, which could account for part of the decline.) The defending-champion Houston Astros were a big winner, with a projected US$23.2 million boost in sales.
With a few exceptions, gate receipts make up between one-third and one-fifth of teamwide revenue, according to Forbes’ annual valuations. Some teams rely on such sales more than others, depending on their local media rights and status in league-wide revenue sharing. The Blue Jays, for example, had US$274 million in overall revenue off US$83 million in ticket sales, so a US$22.9 million drop is a significant loss.
Poor attendance can also have a ripple effect on team revenue. Assuming each of those missing fans would have purchased two beers and a hot dog during the game, MLB teams lost another US$47.2 million in food and beverage sales. That’s a conservative estimate, but MLB teams report attendance as tickets sold, not actual turnstile numbers. Other potential profits, like parking and merchandise sales, were also omitted in these calculations.