Ballparks Draw Record Crowds
NEW YORK (AP) _ The major leagues, helped by three new ballparks, drew a record 72,748,970 fans this year and the average attendance topped 30,000 for the first time since the 1994-95 strike.
After drawing an average of 31,612 in 1994 before the start of the 232-day strike, attendance dropped 20.1 percent in 1995 to 25,260.
The average rose to 26,889 in 1996, 28,288 in 1997 and 29,285 in 1998, the year Arizona and Tampa Bay started play. The average dropped 0.9 percent in 1999 to 29,019, then rose 3.7 percent this year to 30,099.
The only seasons in which the average was higher were in the Rockies’ first two seasons, in which they played at Mile High Stadium, and averaged crowds of 56,000-plus.
``Our new record level of attendance is further evidence of the continuing renaissance that we are experiencing in major league baseball,″ commissioner Bud Selig said.
San Francisco, which moved to Pacific Bell Park from Candlestick, had the biggest increase, rising 1,236,931 to 3,315,330. Detroit’s Comerica Park drew 2,533,752, up 507,311 from Tiger Stadium’s final season, and Houston’s Enron Field drew 2,706,017, up 350,122 from the Astrodome’s last year.
Cleveland led the major leagues at 3,456,278, followed by St. Louis at 3,336,493.
Montreal, at 926,427, was the only team that didn’t break 1 million. Minnesota was last in the AL at 1,059,715.
Ten teams topped 3 million, two more than the previous mark, set in 1998.
Houston, San Francisco, St. Louis and Boston (2,586,032) set team records.
All figures are unofficial, subject to auditing by the commissioner’s office.