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Cardinals minor league attendance trending downward

Despite solid play on the field, the St. Louis Cardinals’ top four minor league clubs had down attendance in 2010.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)After noting that the Batavia Muckdogs drew just 601 fans on Thursday night for what became their final game of the 2010 post-season and perhaps their last game ever, it reminded me that I wanted to look at minor league attendance for the season across the St. Louis Cardinals system.

Turns out that I didn’t have to do the data collection work, as the folks at Baseball Digest already have. They collected attendance figures for 176 teams across minor league baseball.

Below, I extracted the information for the Cardinals top six farm clubs and added some year-to-year and in-league comparisons. Here are my major observations:

  • Despite all six clubs playing very good baseball, including five playoff entrants, only the lowest two rungs experienced an increase in attendance over 2009.  Batavia and Johnson City’s increases are relatively small.
  • They’re not alone, as 104 of the 176 minor league clubs averaged fewer fans per game in 2010 compared to last year.
  • Palm Beach, Johnson City and Batavia remain within the bottom ten percent of the 176 teams tracked in average attendance.
  • Of the Cardinals affiliates, only Memphis and Springfield are not deeply lodged among the poorest-attended teams in their respective leagues.
2010 # 2009 # Team Lg Total Att G 2010 avg 2009 +/- 2010 Lg rank
23 17 Memphis Redbirds PCL 462,041 71 6,507 6,981 -0.07 7 of 16
43 36 Springfield Cardinals TL 357,336 67 5,333 5,835 -0.09 4 of 8
86 85 Quad Cities River Bandits ML 224,128 64 3,502 3,693 -0.05 10 of 16
163 161 Palm Beach Cardinals FSL 64,767 67 966 1,008 -0.04 10 of 12
159t 162 Batavia Muckdogs NYP 36,601 36 1,016 962 0.06 14 of 14
173 172 Johnson City Cardinals AppL 24,049 32 751 738 0.02 8 of 10

Update 9/15: Minor League Baseball announced overall attendance was down 1/2 of one percent this year, or -0.005 as represented on the above scale. In other words, the four Cardinals clubs’ declines of from four to nine percent were substantially greater than average.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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