The 30 teams last year combined to draw 78,614,880, a 1.1 percent drop from 2007's record attendance of 79,503,175. SportsBusiness Journal said MLB sources expect that to drop to 75 million in 2009, a 4.6 percent drop from last year.
The numbers are believable, of course, given the economy. And it gave teams (other than the Yankees) reason to limit their winter spending.
Individual clubs are in a day-to-day fight to stem against that or further declines by implementing a wide range of discounted ticket offers and delaying the start of single-game sales to dates closer to the start of the regular season.Not sure about DuPuy's spring-training assertion, and three teams have new facilities in Arizona, which changed capacity and provided an attraction.
MLB executives declined to specify a firm attendance projection for the season, adding that they see signs of hope in fan turnout to games played earlier this month.
"There are a couple of barometers that have left us guardedly optimistic," said MLB President Bob DuPuy. "Spring training attendance has been essentially flat compared to last year and the World Baseball Classic attendance went up [8.7 percent], even with the economy being the way it is and ticket prices going up a bit."
Attendance this year will be affected by new parks in New York, both of which have fewer seats then their predecessor. And if the regular season projection comes true, then clubs have an excuse to penny-pinch again next winter.
Just like Bud Selig likes it.