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MiLB Attendance in 2022 Didn't Return to "Normal"

Going into 2022, many MiLB operators described this season as the first “normal” season in three years.

By their explanation, the last normal season had been 2019, which was prior to the pandemic and before the massive reorganization of the minors in 2021.

The 2020 MiLB season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 season saw a delayed start because of the pandemic, many teams faced capacity restrictions and ticket sales were affected.

So the hope was that 2022 would be the point where teams would return to where they were in 2019, with full houses on big nights and much improved attendance numbers.

When compared to 2021, that was absolutely true. But now that the 2022 MiLB season is complete, MiLB teams have to hope that 2022 wasn’t normal after all. Because if it was, then MiLB teams are operating at significantly reduced attendance levels from where they were pre-pandemic.

The 120 affiliated MiLB teams drew 30,916,465 fans during the 2022 season as reported by the teams themselves. That’s up significantly from last year’s 22,088,997 fans.

While it may have been a bump up from 2021, it was also a big dip from what teams have historically drawn. From 2005 to 2019, the 120 full-season MiLB clubs averaged between 33 and 35 million fans per season. The worst mark over those seasons was the 33,203,745 fans that came through the gates in 2018.

Those numbers are comparisons of apples to apples. MiLB’s reported attendance numbers for 2005-2019 topped 40 million fans each and every year. But that included ticket-selling short-season and rookie ball teams as well as the Mexican League, which was affiliated with MiLB. MLB’s reduction of the minors in 2021 from 160 to 120 ticket-selling teams has likely assured that the all-time MiLB attendance record of 43,263,740 fans, set in 2007, is a record that will likely never be broken.

On an average per game basis, MiLB clubs averaged 3,910 fans per game this year. That is up from the 3,205 fans per game who came through the gates in 2021, but from 2005 to 2019, MiLB full-season teams averaged more than 4,150 fans per game in every one of those 15 seasons.

MiLB operators around the country said they believed the decrease is largely due to a dip in the group and corporate sales. While individual ticket sales seemed to have largely bounced back, multiple teams said they struggled to sell the same number of larger group packages. Other clubs said that season ticket sales have not yet bounced back to what they were pre-pandemic.

Remarkably, a Class A team, the Dayton Dragons, ascended to the top of MiLB when measured by average attendance per game. The Dragons drew an announced average of 7,935 fans per game in 2022 for 444,346 total fans. Because the High-A Midwest League plays fewer games, the overall total attendance leader was the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, who drew 555,576 fans (an average of 7,611 fans per game).

The drop in the top average attendance is also notable. In 2019, there were seven teams that topped 8,000 fans per game, led by the Las Vegas Aviators (9,299 fans per game), Columbus Clippers (8,684) and Nashville Sounds (8,631).

Here are all 120 full-season clubs' total and average attendance numbers for 2022, ranked by average per game reported attendance.

1Dayton Dragons444,34656117,935
2Lehigh Valley IronPigs544,2207157,665
3Columbus Clippers534,3937067,634
4Nashville Sounds555,5767327,611
5Indianapolis Indians534,6107237,425
6Worcester Red Sox532,1527327,290
7Charlotte Knights531,4657327,280
8Albuquerque Isotopes515,4987327,062
9Las Vegas Aviators518,2217506,910
10Buffalo Bisons451,85966116,846
11El Paso Chihuahuas496,8057416,714
12St. Paul Saints473,9117246,582
13Durham Bulls472,0907506,295
14Rochester Red Wings432,5807066,180
15Richmond Flying Squirrels406,5606646,160
16Hartford Yard Goats402,1236726,002
17Iowa Cubs437,5437415,913
18Salt Lake Bees434,6167415,873
19Toledo Mud Hens426,4997325,842
20Portland Sea Dogs379,1006635,744
21Louisville Bats424,0357415,727
22Oklahoma City Dodgers410,7307325,626
23Reading Fightin Phils368,0686635,577
24West Michigan Whitecaps337,1676155,527
25Round Rock Express412,9887505,507
26Tulsa Drillers357,2006535,495
27Amarillo Sod Poodles379,0296905,493
28Somerset Patriots351,1426725,241
29Vancouver Canadians313,2566165,135
30Fort Wayne TinCaps303,6806075,061
31Rocket City Trash Pandas327,0076545,031
32Tacoma Rainiers366,4697325,020
33Frisco RoughRiders341,2436815,018
34Norfolk Tides365,2927325,004
35Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp358,0947234,974
36Sacramento River Cats372,7697504,970
37Greenville Drive317,1506514,879
38Reno Aces336,0797044,801
39Syracuse Mets335,4907064,793
40Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders331,2867144,666
41Lansing Lugnuts288,8406254,659
42Winston-Salem Dash287,5296424,493
43Arkansas Travelers300,0426724,478
44South Bend Cubs285,9776424,468
45New Hampshire Fisher Cats282,5146544,346
46Altoona Curve285,7776644,330
47Tennessee Smokies294,3346814,328
48Jersey Shore BlueClaws256,1416064,269
49Greensboro Grasshoppers265,9436354,221
50Pensacola Blue Wahoos281,9726734,209
51Omaha Storm Chasers294,5117164,148
52San Antonio Missions272,1446644,123
53Augusta GreenJackets262,1726434,096
54Fredericksburg Nationals260,5466434,071
55Fresno Grizzlies261,6526514,025
56Charleston RiverDogs251,4916333,992
57Sugar Land Space Cowboys285,8277253,970
58Myrtle Beach Pelicans247,9266333,935
59Birmingham Barons266,9216813,925
60Corpus Christi Hooks257,9916643,909
61Akron RubberDucks253,7356533,904
62Springfield Cardinals259,0446903,754
63Spokane Indians231,0816353,668
64Harrisburg Senators244,4336813,595
65Northwest Arkansas Naturals240,6156823,538
66Fayetteville Woodpeckers214,4706253,459
67Midland RockHounds226,2496613,428
68Columbia Fireflies217,2256433,394
69Wisconsin Timber Rattlers206,8056173,390
70Memphis Redbirds239,6057143,375
71Wichita Wind Surge220,5286653,341
72Chattanooga Lookouts213,6856623,238
73Gwinnett Stripers216,1777332,961
74Kannapolis Cannon Ballers192,1616602,912
75Salem Red Sox181,2876342,878
76Hudson Valley Renegades184,0556432,876
77Lake County Captains169,5745972,874
78Great Lakes Loons174,0506242,807
79Asheville Tourists172,7266332,742
80Brooklyn Cyclones167,8466262,707
81Bowie Baysox174,5376552,685
82Quad Cities River Bandits170,7316422,668
83Erie SeaWolves175,8106632,664
84Montgomery Biscuits156,35662122,522
85Delmarva Shorebirds154,7866262,497
86Bowling Green Hot Rods155,9756432,437
87Clearwater Threshers151,9826342,412
88Mississippi Braves150,4916392,389
89Binghamton Rumble Ponies146,6796292,366
90Hillsboro Hops150,7926422,356
91Biloxi Shuckers148,86564102,326
92Eugene Emeralds136,3606182,235
93Carolina Mudcats138,5796422,165
94Cedar Rapids Kernels136,3606342,164
95Inland Empire 66ers141,7926602,148
96Rancho Cucamonga Quakes138,5336602,099
97Peoria Chiefs135,7846512,089
98Everett AquaSox128,8366521,982
99Aberdeen IronBirds121,9166251,966
100Wilmington Blue Rocks118,7546191,947
101Visalia Rawhide121,0066601,833
102San Jose Giants115,0746601,744
103Tri-City Dust Devils108,1366261,744
104Stockton Ports114,4806601,735
105Hickory Crawdads105,3786221,700
106Beloit Sky Carp102,7946341,632
107Lake Elsinore Storm102,9506511,584
108Fort Myers Mighty Mussels86,98755161,582
109Daytona Tortugas91,15658121,572
110Down East Wood Ducks98,3286501,513
111Lynchburg Hillcats91,2326161,496
112Modesto Nuts94,2536601,428
113Rome Braves89,1766361,415
114St. Lucie Mets71,2136171,167
115Tampa Tarpons46,6275116914
116Bradenton Marauders56,522653870
117Jupiter Hammerheads42,156634669
118Lakeland Flying Tigers35,8555813618
119Palm Beach Cardinals36,880619605
120Dunedin Blue Jays24,402643381

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When comparing the 120 full-season clubs just to the 120 full-season clubs that existed in 2019 and the years prior, attendance is down almost everywhere. Looking at a team-by-team basis, the breadth of the attendance decreases are notable. Of the 104 MiLB teams that were in full-season affiliated baseball in 2019 and 2022, only 16 (15%) reported any increase at all in average attendance (when comparing 2019 and 2022). Another 12 teams (12%) reported decreases of fewer than 100 fans per game. But 21 teams (20%) saw decreases of more than 1,000 fans per game when comparing 2019 and 2022. Round Rock (-3,035 fans per game), Sacramento (-2,879) and Las Vegas (-2,379) all saw decreases of over 2,000 fans per game.

Kannapolis (+1,779), which opened a new ballpark in 2021, is the only MiLB team that saw an increase of more than 1,000 fans per game when compared to 2019. Myrtle Beach (+554) is the only other club to register an increase of over 500 fans per game.

Over half (56 of 104) of the teams that were full-season clubs in 2019 and 2022 have seen average attendance decreases of more than 10% when comparing this year to 2019. There were 17 MiLB teams that saw average attendance decreases of over 25%.

Here is a look at the 104 MiLB teams who were in full-season affiliated baseball in 2019 and 2022, as measured by the percentage difference in average attendance from 2022 compared to 2019.

RkTeamPer Game Diff.Pct ChangeRkTeamPer Game Diff.Pct Change
1*Kannapolis Cannon Ballers1779157.02%53Albuquerque Isotopes-921-11.54%
2Dunedin Blue Jays17887.68%54Nashville Sounds-1020-11.82%
3*Beloit Sky Carp45138.19%55Rancho Cucamonga Quakes-285-11.95%
4Myrtle Beach Pelicans55816.52%56Salt Lake Bees-798-11.96%
5Salem Red Sox31312.20%57Columbus Clippers-1050-12.09%
6Quad Cities River Bandits1947.84%58Amarillo Sod Poodles-798-12.68%
7Winston-Salem Dash2215.17%59Indianapolis Indians-1205-13.96%
8Lansing Lugnuts2164.86%60Buffalo Bisons-1135-14.22%
9Augusta GreenJackets1764.49%61Charlotte Knights-1264-14.79%
10West Michigan Whitecaps1492.77%62Oklahoma City Dodgers-1003-15.13%
11Portland Sea Dogs671.18%63Corpus Christi Hooks-715-15.46%
12Wisconsin Timber Rattlers361.07%64San Antonio Missions-768-15.70%
13Greenville Drive300.62%65Omaha Storm Chasers-826-16.61%
14Dayton Dragons350.44%66Bowling Green Hot Rods-500-17.02%
15Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp140.28%67Fort Myers Mighty Mussels-327-17.13%
16Tennessee Smokies90.21%68Louisville Bats-1207-17.41%
17Reno Aces-2-0.04%69Bowie Baysox-571-17.54%
18Biloxi Shuckers-5-0.21%70Durham Bulls-1373-17.91%
19Tulsa Drillers-12-0.22%71Northwest Arkansas Naturals-778-18.03%
20Asheville Tourists-19-0.69%72Inland Empire 66ers-479-18.23%
21Great Lakes Loons-32-1.13%73Midland RockHounds-769-18.32%
22Richmond Flying Squirrels-95-1.52%74Hickory Crawdads-384-18.43%
23Tacoma Rainiers-89-1.74%75Toledo Mud Hens-1345-18.71%
24Arkansas Travelers-96-2.10%76Lynchburg Hillcats-362-19.48%
25Hartford Yard Goats-191-3.08%77Erie SeaWolves-651-19.64%
26Pensacola Blue Wahoos-145-3.33%78Montgomery Biscuits-667-20.92%
27Syracuse Mets-169-3.41%79Springfield Cardinals-1003-21.08%
28Visalia Rawhide-66-3.48%80Binghamton Rumble Ponies-634-21.13%
29Cedar Rapids Kernels-79-3.52%81Iowa Cubs-1613-21.43%
30Mississippi Braves-94-3.79%82Akron RubberDucks-1173-23.10%
31Fayetteville Woodpeckers-173-4.76%83Bradenton Marauders-262-23.14%
32Norfolk Tides-300-5.66%84Delmarva Shorebirds-767-23.50%
33Altoona Curve-274-5.95%85Carolina Mudcats-682-23.96%
34Tampa Tarpons-59-6.06%86Lake Elsinore Storm-950-24.54%
35Reading Fightin Phils-368-6.19%87San Jose Giants-573-24.73%
36South Bend Cubs-302-6.33%88Las Vegas Aviators-2389-25.69%
37Gwinnett Stripers-208-6.56%89Daytona Tortugas-544-25.71%
38Jupiter Hammerheads-376-6.96%90Frisco RoughRiders-1784-26.23%
39Harrisburg Senators-269-6.96%91Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders-1717-26.90%
40New Hampshire Fisher Cats-370-7.85%92Birmingham Barons-1499-27.64%
41Chattanooga Lookouts-280-7.96%93Peoria Chiefs-831-28.46%
42Down East Wood Ducks-138-8.36%94Modesto Nuts-598-29.52%
43Charleston RiverDogs-375-8.59%95Fresno Grizzlies-1734-30.11%
44Lakeland Flying Tigers-201-8.63%96Memphis Redbirds-1591-32.04%
45Fort Wayne TinCaps-480-8.66%97Stockton Ports-866-33.29%
46Columbia Fireflies-326-8.76%98Round Rock Express-3035-35.53%
47St. Lucie Mets-123-9.53%99Jersey Shore BlueClaws-403-35.98%
48Rochester Red Wings-666-9.73%100Rome Braves-801-36.15%
49Clearwater Threshers-276-10.27%101Sacramento River Cats-2879-36.68%
50Greensboro Grasshoppers-489-10.38%102Lake County Captains-215-37.49%
51Lehigh Valley IronPigs-940-10.92%103Palm Beach Cardinals-368-37.82%
52El Paso Chihuahuas-864-11.40%104Wilmington Blue Rocks-1784-47.82%
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