Ah, baseball. Long considered the epitome of American pastimes. As sacrosanct as rock music, football, and station wagons. And like all three, dying quickly. Yes, despite the lucrative contracts keeping the league afloat financially, and some teams succeeding, the MLB is suffering from a pervasive illness known as lack-of-attendance. With attendance down to a 15 year low, shrinking by anywhere from 5.9-6.5 percent, baseball this season has not galvanized the fan bases enough to come out and watch. What gives? Well, there are many issues this could be attributed to.
First, let's establish the struggling teams, and how precipitous of a decline these teams have undergone. We have myriad struggling teams, anchored to the bottom of their respective divisions or just not playing exciting baseball. The White Sox, for example, had 974 people attend a game. 974. Yes, that is one game that was on a Monday, but it's indicative of a larger trend (and yes, the Sox are playing some putrid baseball). This isn't isolated to the Sox, however. The Blue Jays? Check. The Orioles? Double check. The Rangers? Triple. This has even occurred among more reputable teams like the Indians. So what gives?
For one, let's not act as if baseball has not acquired a reputation for being boring. It has seemingly been reduced to a novelty amongst the American populace, especially when considering polls which have shown baseball's popularity decline gradually. Weather doesn't help things certainly, and the cold spell could be part of why the initial attendance was so meager for awhile. However, there are definitely other factors. The biggest one? Teams suck. Many teams have not been great or have been beset by attendance issues. The historical predictors are still there, and some teams have been able to weather the storms of poor attendance, but others have not been able to stave off those issues (MARLINS AND RAYS). What can be done to rectify this?
One solution is definitely cost. Considering prices rose by 2.7% on just tickets alone, and that does not factor in other expenditures at baseball games, teams could look at somehow trying to reduce cost. Trying to schedule as many games over the weekend stretches as possible would also be valuable, as games on Monday (like that 974 attendance figure) will definitely have less attendance than a game on Saturday. Some other ideas I have seen floated around are changing the venues (to switch things up a bit), and also make Opening Day more predictable. All I know is that there has to be some sort of solution somewhere. Part of it can also be in increasing entertainment value, though this can probably only come via changes to the draft and free agency. There has to be a solution somewhere.
Overall, baseball has remained popular. I'm of the opinion that almost nothing beats a day at a baseball stadium, whether it be Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, Busch Stadium, Dodger, Fenway, etc. However, these declines are still a little worrying despite the TV deals. Many teams, such as the Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, and Braves have all experienced either increases or consistently high attendance for many years now. However, other teams have NOT experienced this. Regardless of this, baseball remains an American pastime, and it is one that should be upheld and cherished.
For more about the declines, refer to this link.