Minor League Baseball ended its 2019 season up 2.6 per cent in attendance, reversing a decline from last year and marking the organization’s largest annual increase at the gate since 2007.
The affiliated minor leagues’ attendance total of 41.5 million, up by 1.05 million from 2018, was buttressed heavily by the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators, the Oakland A’s top farm team, which opened a well-received new ballpark and led all of MiLB in both total attendance (650,934) and average attendance (9,299). The Aviators sold out 43 games at Las Vegas Ballpark, a new 10,000-seat ballpark that opened this year in Summerlin, Nevada, and were the first MiLB team in four years to surpass 650,000 in annual attendance.
The Frisco (Texas) RoughRiders led the minors’ Double A-level for the 15 consecutive season in attendance with a 2019 total of 455,765. The Dayton (Ohio) Dragons led the Single-A level with a total of 545,108 that extended a sellout streak dating to 2000 and remains active at 1,385 games, the longest such streak for any US pro sports team. Thirteen individual teams set single-season attendance records in their current ballparks.
Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner, in line for a fourth four-year term in that role, earlier this year predicted the attendance numbers represented “a good year that is conceivable to end up as a very good year.” Upon the close of the season, O’Conner praised the organization’s continued focus toward providing affordable family entertainment as a key driver in the improved attendance numbers.
“It is also a testament to the the support of our loyal fans and the dedication of our front office staffs across the country and their commitment to making Minor League Baseball the summertime destination for memory making fun and excitement,” O’Conner said.
The 2019 boost additional represents a key early step for MiLB as it seeks to reach 50 million in annual attendance by 2026.
Copa de la Diversión, MiLB’s Hispanic outreach program, also continued to pay dividends as 403 games in which MiLB teams adopted Spanish-language identities drew nearly 20 per-cent-larger crowds than the organization-wide average. A set of 71 Pride nights across MiLB similarly posted a 12-per-cent attendance boost compared to the overall average.