The AP is reporting that attendance at Major League Baseball games is down 6.9% over the first two weeks of the season compared to 2008’s final results. Average attendance was 30,298 per game for the first 183 games over the opening two weeks of the season, down from last year’s final figure of 32,539.
For the Cardinals, approaching the start of their second homestand, the club is averaging 38,408 through their first seven home games. Opponents were divisional rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros.
Using the AP methodology, that is down from last season’s 42,382 season-long average per-game ticket sales at Busch. It represents a 9.4% decline year-to-year, larger than the 6.9% cross-MLB drop.
In all fairness, attendance typically does rise in the summer months, but I used the Cardinals 2008 full-season amount to provide an apples-to-apples comparison to the AP numbers.
In my opinion, a more valid analysis would consider relative counts between the first homestands of 2008 and 2009. The Cardinals opened each of the last two seasons at Busch. In those initial six games last year, the club averaged 40,457 against the Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals.
The 2009 first homestand average represents a 5.1% decline in attendance in St. Louis.
Prior to the season, reports estimated the Cardinals to be projecting 3 million in attendance, which would be down 14% from the 3.43 million achieved in 2008. At least based on the initial series drop of 5.1%, the 14% seems pessimistic.
None of this reflects ticket revenue, which may be down even more. Early indications were that higher-priced seating areas were suffering from the most sluggish demand.
Recent email ticket offers from the club seem to bear this out as All-Inclusive tickets for the Astros and Mets series have been featured as well as All-Inclusive Champions Club deals for the Phillies games on May 4-5.