This is completely a first draft / work-in-progress. Please point out typos, confusing bits, or outright mistakes in the comments! -EMV
A spectre is haunting North America: the spectre of declining baseball attendance. MLB attendance peaked in 2007 at 32,696 per game; last year it was down 12% from that high, at 28,768. This year to date, it’s 27,640.
That the audience for baseball may be aging is a natural fear. And the notion that Americans might eventually lose interest in the sport in favor of less subtle and more lurid and violent ones seems reasonable as well. Theodore Sturgeon’s 1964 “How to Forget Baseball” remains the only science fiction story ever published in Sports Illustrated, and posits a future where baseball is played only in Amish-like enclaves. The underrated 1969 novel The Last Man is Out is set in a future where MLB has contracted significantly and moved to smaller cities.
The good news is that there’s no evidence that either the aging of the audience or the imagined growing irrelevance of the game itself is behind the attendance drop.
In fact, it’s possible to model annual attendance in the post-PED era with terrific accuracy (adjusted r-squared = .92) with just two broad on-the-field factors. ( Collapse )