Minor League Teams Hold Steady At The Gate

Minor league baseball continued to fare well in a tough economic climate, as more teams saw an increase at the gate this season despite overall attendance dropping slightly in 2011.

Unofficially, the minor leagues drew 41,237,943 spectators this season, down 0.47 percent from last year’s total of 41,432,456. Like last year, staying flat in a recession—when most professional sports are seeing significant decreases at the gate—should be viewed as a success.

In 2011, 83 teams saw an increase at the gate compared to 63 teams last year and 58 in 2009. However, overall attendance dipped for a third straight season after the sport set attendance records for five straight years, culminating in 2008 with 43,263,740.

Unofficial attendance figures for every minor league team are listed below. (Minor League Baseball will announce official attendance figures, which includes the Triple-A Mexican League, in the coming days.)

Though 83 teams saw an increase at the gate, that included just 12 of 30 Triple-A teams. Just two (Gwinnett and Memphis) were up by more than 5 percent. Meanwhile, nine Triple-A teams’ attendance went down at least 5 percent compared to last season.

Gwinnett saw its attendance increase after struggling to gain footing in its market after relocating from Richmond in 2009. The Braves ranked 12th in the 14-team International League with a 5,085 per-game average after ranking 13th last season at 4,818.

Memphis, once one of minor league baseball’s flagship franchises, had been hit hard by the recession as it struggled to make its $5.5 million annual payment on AutoZone Park. The Redbirds ranked fifth in the 16-team PCL with a 7,050 average, up 8.33 percent from 6,508 average last season (seventh in the PCL).

Lehigh Valley topped the minors in attendance for a second straight season, averaging 9,249 fans to outpace fellow International League affiliates Louisville (8,716) and Columbus (8,704). Round Rock finished fourth with a 8,587 average, though its 618,261 total was second to Lehigh Valley (628,925).

Sacramento, which led the minors in attendance for nine straight seasons before finishing second to Columbus in 2009, dipped 7.47 percent in 2011 to finish fifth.

NOTABLE GAINS
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Bradenton (HiA) 103,978 1,507 823 83.11%
Orem (R) 99,979 2,777 2,195 26.51%
Jupiter(HiA) 82,071 1,207 994 21.43%
Connecticut (SS) 62,317 1,780 1,486 19.78%
Tampa (HiA) 117,162 1,775 1,534 15.71%
Dunedin (HiA) 43,148 654 576 13.54%
Huntsville (AA) 93,340 1,582 1,404 12.68%
San Jose (HiA) 222,547 3,225 2,873 12.25%
Palm Beach (HiA) 68,620 1,089 967 12.62%
Fort Myers (HiA) 122,328 1,911 1,708 11.89%
Brevard County (HiA) 93,903 1,491 1,339 11.35%
Salem-Keizer (HiA) 105,973 2,788 2,532 10.11%
High Desert (HiA) 119,028 1,725 1,585 8.83%
Visalia (HiA) 118,065 1,736 1,598 8.64%
Memphis (AAA) 493,528 7,050 6,508 8.33%
Midland (AA) 308,810 4,541 4,194 8.27%
Savannah (LoA) 135,415 1,963 1,825 7.56%
Salem (HiA) 226,337 3,429 3,205 6.99%
New Britain (AA) 363,759 5,867 5,500 6.67%
Gwinnett (AAA) 351,565 5,095 4,818 5.75%
Lynchburg (HiA) 169,367 2,455 2,341 4.87%
Trenton (AA) 379,501 5,664 5,409 4.71%
Mississippi (AA) 191,653 2,738 2,620 4.50%
NOTABLE LOSSES
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Bakersfield (HiA) 40,056 572 932 -38.63%
*Tucson (AAA) 242,136 3,410 4,266 -20.07%
Lake County (LoA) 235,897 3,574 4,234 -15.59%
Lowell (SS) 167,222 4,645 5,446 -14.71%
Jacksonville (AA) 309,310 4,419 5,141 -14.04%
South Bend (LoA) 112,795 1,762 2,025 -12.99%
Tulsa (AA) 366,291 5,387 6,185 -12.90%
Peoria (LoA) 187,915 2,763 3,132 -11.78%
Salt Lake (AAA) 437,769 6,438 7,293 -11.72%
Jackson (AA) 106,689 1,641 1,823 -9.98%
Burlington (LoA) 54,284 835 917 -8.94%
Birmingham (AA) 261,623 3,847 4,180 -7.97%
Scranton/WB (AAA) 298,098 4,586 4,981 -7.93%
Frisco (AA) 509,331 7,276 7,886 -7.74%
Durham (AAA) 462,682 6,517 7,043 -7.47%
Sacramento (AAA) 600,306 8,455 9,138 -7.47%
Auburn (SS) 48,429 1,424 1,535 -7.23%
Boise (SS) 98,860 2,601 2,781 -6.47%
Arkansas (AA) 300,594 4,625 4,940 -6.38%
Montgomery (AA) 256,403 3,771 4,027 -6.36%
Jamestown (SS) 42,086 1,137 1,213 -6.27%
Hagerstown (LoA) 123,593 1,931 2,058 -6.17%
Yakima (SS) 66,545 1,751 1,860 -5.86%
Las Vegas (AAA) 314,032 4,486 4,739 -5.34%
Buffalo (AAA) 521,530 7,784 8,219 -5.29%
New Orleans (AAA) 372,017 5,315 5,596 -5.02%
Portland (AA) 369,424 5,514 5,832 -5.45%
*Played in Portland, Ore. in 2010
INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Lehigh Valley 628,925 9,249 9,227 0.24%
Louisville 601,372 8,716 8,634 0.95%
Columbus 591,884 8,704 8,946 -2.71%
Pawtucket 578,930 8,270 8,343 -0.87%
Indianapolis 580,082 8,170 8,028 1.77%
Toledo 549,438 7,963 7,972 -0.11%
Buffalo 521,530 7,784 8,219 -5.29%
Durham 462,682 6,517 7,043 -7.47%
Rochester 448,024 6,493 6,600 -1.62%
Syracuse 374,680 5,854 6,123 -4.39%
Norfolk 397,889 5,684 5,455 4.20%
Gwinnett 351,565 5,095 4,818 5.75%
Scranton/WB 298,098 4,586 4,981 -7.93%
Charlotte 279,107 4,105 4,248 -3.37%
TOTAL 6,664,206
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Round Rock 618,261 8,587 8,408 2.13%
Sacramento 600,306 8,455 9,138 -7.47%
Albuquerque 578,328 8,145 8,159 -0.17%
Iowa 500,675 7,256 7,672 -5.42%
Memphis 493,528 7,050 6,508 8.33%
Fresno 494,051 6,958 6,783 2.58%
Salt Lake 437,769 6,438 7,293 -11.72%
Reno 432,314 6,089 6,218 -2.07%
Omaha 410,326 5,947 5,888 1.00%
Tacoma 378,518 5,331 5,163 3.25%
New Orleans 372,017 5,315 5,596 -5.02%
Oklahoma City 378,877 5,262 5,479 -3.96%
Nashville 335,143 4,857 4,765 1.93%
Colorado Springs 339,009 4,843 4,824 0.39%
Las Vegas 314,032 4,486 4,739 -5.34%
*Tucson 242,136 3,410 4,266 -20.07%
TOTAL 6,925,290
* Team played in Portland last season
EASTERN LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Reading 456,957 6,720 6,615 1.59%
Richmond 447,520 6,679 6,626 0.80%
New Britain 363,759 5,867 5,500 6.67%
Trenton 379,501 5,664 5,409 4.71%
New Hampshire 373,482 5,574 5,516 1.05%
Portland 369,424 5,514 5,832 -5.45%
Harrisburg 291,248 4,221 4,205 0.38%
Altoona 285,906 4,205 4,150 1.33%
Akron 266,265 3,916 3,791 3.30%
Bowie 255,832 3,655 3,545 3.10%
Erie 224,443 3,350 3,217 4.13%
Binghamton 209,044 3,167 3,088 2.56%
TOTAL 3,923,381
SOUTHERN LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Jacksonville 309,310 4,419 5,141 -14.04%
Tennessee 265,341 3,960 3,859 2.62%
Birmingham 261,623 3,847 4,180 -7.97%
Montgomery 256,403 3,771 4,027 -6.36%
Carolina 255,216 3,699 3,811 -2.94%
Chattanooga 224,974 3,409 3,246 5.02%
Mobile 210,956 3,057 3,053 0.13%
Mississippi 191,653 2,738 2,620 4.50%
Jackson 106,689 1,641 1,823 -9.98%
Huntsville 93,340 1,582 1,404 12.68%
TOTAL 2,175,505
TEXAS LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Frisco 509,331 7,276 7,886 -7.74%
Corpus Christi 395,128 5,645 5,976 -5.54%
Tulsa 366,291 5,387 6,185 -12.90%
Springfield 337,166 5,109 5,333 -4.20%
Nwest Arkansas 310,613 4,779 4,856 -1.59%
Arkansas 300,594 4,625 4,940 -6.38%
Midland 308,810 4,541 4,194 8.27%
San Antonio 294,176 4,203 4,190 0.31%
TOTAL 2,822,109
CALIFORNIA LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Lake Elsinore 225,769 3,272 3,203 2.15%
San Jose 222,547 3,225 2,873 12.25%
Stockton 198,705 2,839 2,829 0.35%
Modesto 180,785 2,659 2,692 -1.23%
Inland Empire 185,411 2,649 2,561 3.44%
Rancho Cuca 155,903 2,227 2,153 3.44%
Lancaster 147,129 2,132 2,241 -4.86%
Visalia 118,065 1,736 1,598 8.64%
High Desert 119,028 1,725 1,585 8.83%
Bakersfield 40,056 572 932 -38.63%
TOTAL 1,593,398
CAROLINA LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Winston-Salem 312,416 4,663 4,587 1.66%
Wilmington 288,738 4,512 4,554 -0.92%
Frederick 296,296 4,422 4,222 4.74%
Salem 226,337 3,429 3,205 6.99%
Myrtle Beach 213,200 3,280 3,282 -0.06%
Potomac 171,096 2,950 3,064 -3.72%
Lynchburg 169,367 2,455 2,341 4.87%
Kinston 112,181 1,781 1,799 -1.00%
TOTAL 1,789,631
FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Clearwater 177,117 2,567 2,679 -4.18%
Charlotte 166,375 2,483 2,540 -2.24%
Daytona 154,557 2,342 2,241 4.51%
Fort Myers 122,328 1,911 1,708 11.89%
Tampa 117,162 1,775 1,534 15.71%
St. Lucie 105,379 1,647 1,506 9.36%
Bradenton 103,978 1,507 823 83.11%
Brevard County 93,903 1,491 1,339 11.35%
Jupiter 82,071 1,207 994 21.43%
Palm Beach 68,620 1,089 967 12.62%
Lakeland 62,324 959 1,016 -5.61%
Dunedin 43,148 654 576 13.54%
TOTAL 1,296,962
MIDWEST LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Dayton 571,886 8,288 8,535 -2.89%
Kane County 410,262 6,123 6,244 -1.94%
Fort Wayne 376,022 5,612 5,785 -2.99%
West Michigan 372,555 5,561 5,385 3.27%
Lansing 345,089 5,392 5,302 1.70%
Great Lakes 264,249 3,830 4,060 -5.67%
Wisconsin 240,998 3,766 3,759 0.19%
Lake County 235,897 3,574 4,234 -15.59%
Bowling Green 237,070 3,538 3,514 0.68%
Quad Cities 223,025 3,485 3,502 -0.49%
Peoria 187,915 2,763 3,132 -11.78%
Cedar Rapids 169,000 2,449 2,585 -5.26%
South Bend 112,795 1,762 2,025 -12.99%
Clinton 115,253 1,746 1,817 -3.91%
Beloit 66,982 1,030 1,096 -6.02%
Burlington 54,284 835 917 -8.94%
TOTAL 3,983,282
SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Lakewood 382,070 6,263 6,171 1.49%
Greensboro 388,218 5,546 5,500 0.84%
Lexington 312,349 4,880 4,872 0.16%
Greenville 327,558 4,747 4,969 -4.47%
Charleston 265,465 3,962 3,899 1.62%
Delmarva 211,993 3,072 3,251 -5.51%
Augusta 200,115 2,943 3,011 -2.26%
Rome 186,345 2,781 2,839 -2.04%
West Virginia 165,996 2,554 2,572 -0.70%
Asheville 157,199 2,346 2,353 -0.30%
Kannapolis 138,487 2,067 2,030 1.82%
Hickory 131,131 2,049 2,070 -1.01%
Savannah 135,415 1,963 1,825 7.56%
Hagerstown 123,593 1,931 2,058 -6.17%
TOTAL 3,125,934
NEW YORK PENN LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Brooklyn 245,087 7,002 7,147 -2.03%
Aberdeen 242,723 6,560 6,548 0.18%
Staten Island 192,568 5,663 5,806 -2.46%
Lowell 167,222 4,645 5,446 -14.71%
Hudson Valley 149,243 4,522 4,415 2.42%
Tri-City 156,297 4,341 4,314 0.63%
State College 139,007 3,756 3,709 1.27%
Mahoning Valley 111,048 3,001 3,015 -0.46%
Vermont 88,711 2,464 2,524 -2.38%
Williamsport 68,124 1,841 1,774 3.78%
Connecticut 62,317 1,780 1,486 19.78%
Auburn 48,429 1,424 1,535 -7.23%
Jamestown 42,086 1,137 1,213 -6.27%
Batavia 37,029 1,057 1,017 3.93%
TOTAL 1,749,891
NORTHWEST LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Spokane 183,458 4,827 4,737 1.90%
Vancouver 162,162 4,267 4,068 4.89%
Eugene 114,690 3,018 2,831 6.61%
Salem-Keizer 105,973 2,788 2,532 10.11%
Boise 98,860 2,601 2,781 -6.47%
Everett 96,345 2,535 2,502 1.32%
Tri_City 85,953 2,261 2,235 1.16%
Yakima 66,545 1,751 1,860 -5.86%
TOTAL 913,986
APPALACHIAN LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Greeneville 45,015 1,364 1,392 -2.01%
Kingsport 31,988 940 901 4.33%
Pulaski 30,236 889 980 -9.29%
Danville 28,523 864 928 -6.90%
Elizabethton 28,900 850 796 6.78%
Burlington 28,427 836 917 -8.83%
Princeton 27,685 814 869 -6.33%
Bluefield 26,395 799 715 11.75%
Johnson City 25,961 763 752 1.46%
Bristol 22,433 701 667 5.10%
TOTAL 295,563
PIONEER LEAGUE
Team 2011 Total 2011 Avg. 2010 Avg. Difference
Ogden 130,817 3,443 3,495 -1.49%
Billings 104,002 2,971 2,744 8.27%
Orem 99,979 2,777 2,195 26.51%
Idaho Falls 94,518 2,487 2,409 3.24%
Missoula 82,060 2,279 2,361 -3.47%
Great Falls 59,884 1,618 1,836 -11.87%
Casper 44,923 1,284 1,503 -14.57%
Helena 37,484 986 888 11.04%
TOTAL 653,667

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