Why Is Braves Attendance Up?

Carroll Rogers has noticed that attendance is up for the Braves and asks readers to suggest explanations.

The Braves have only played 12 games at home this season – entering a seven-game home stand that opens on Friday at Turner Field. But so far the returns in attendance are up.

The Braves’ average home attendance has increased by 20 percent from about this time last year, according to figures in a recent Wall Street Journal article. The Braves’ increase is second only to Minnesota for the biggest increase in Major League Baseball through games of May 8….

So what do you think it’s about? Is Jason Heyward having that big an impact? Or is it because this is manager Bobby Cox’s last season? Or is it because of good weather or that three-game series against the Cubs to open the season?

Readers seem to think Heyward and Cox are the big draws, but I think there are a few other factors involved. And after looking at the numbers, I think you can make the case that the numbers so far suggest that attendance might very well go down this year.

Here are the raw numbers from 2009 and 2010, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

2009						2010			
Gm#	Date		Opp	Attendance	Gm#	Date		Opp	Attendance
4	Friday Apr 10	WSN	48,327		1	Monday Apr 5	CHC	53,081
5	Saturday Apr 11	WSN	34,325		2	Wednesday Apr 7	CHC	36,170
6	Sunday Apr 12	WSN	19,873		3	Thursday Apr 8	CHC	27,443
7	Tuesday Apr 14	FLA	16,293		10	Friday Apr 16	COL	27,692
8	Wednesday Apr 15FLA	19,204		11	Saturday Apr 17	COL	32,602
9	Thursday Apr 16	FLA	21,072		12	Sunday Apr 18	COL	26,546
19	Monday Apr 27	STL	16,739		13	Tuesday Apr 20	PHI	18,032
20	Tuesday Apr 28	STL	18,121		14	Wednesday Apr 21PHI	21,171
21	Wednesday Apr 29STL	19,127		15	Thursday Apr 22	PHI	22,476
22	Friday May 1	HOU	29,309		23	Friday Apr 30	HOU	30,082
23	Saturday May 2	HOU	28,203		24	Saturday May 1	HOU	27,035
24	Sunday May 3	HOU	27,921		25	Sunday May 2	HOU	25,665
25	Monday May 4	NYM	19,132					
26	Tuesday May 5	NYM	21,049					
								
	Overall Mean		24,193			Overall Mean		29,000
	Weekend	Games		6			Weekend	Games		6
		Total		177,781				Total		169,622
		Mean		29,630				Mean		28,270
	Weekday	Games		8			Weekday	Games		6
		Total		150,737				Total		178,373
		Mean		18,842				Mean		29,729
	Opening	Total		102,525			Opening	Total		116,694
		Mean		34,175				Mean		38,898
	Houston	Total		85,433			Houston	Total		82,782
		Mean		28,478				Mean		27,594

There are a few things to note here. The first thing I notice is that there were more weekday (Monday-Thursday) games in 2009 than 2010, which normally generate lower attendance than weekend games. This is going to bring the average down. This disparity is exacerbated by the fact that the Braves opened the series against the Cubs on a weekday. The opening series, especially the first game, traditionally brings a huge crowd. And when the Cubs come to Turner Field, it might as well be a home game for the Cubs. This year, the Braves actually outdrew last year’s opening series by 14%, even though the 2009 home opener was held over the weekend. That goes to show what hosting the Cubs versus the Nationals will do for you.

I think a good barometer for how attendance will change this year is the comparison between the 2009 and 2010 Houston series, because both were held over a weekend at about the same time in the season. This year the Braves drew 884 fewer fans per game to the Houston series than last year. If Cox and Heyward were a part of the 20% boost, it should show up here.

Having Heyward and Cox on board certainly don’t hurt—they may be preventing attendance from shrinking—but I don’t think that they have much to do with the rise in average attendance so far. This does not mean that attendance will not be up later in the season. If the Braves start winning as the season progresses, I expect that attendance will rise. Despite the team’s early woes, I think think the roster is built to win, which will ultimately put fans in the seats.

Edit: I initially attributed the AJC blog post to David O’Brien. My apologies to Ms. Rogers, who also does an excellent job covering the Braves.

3 Responses “Why Is Braves Attendance Up?”

  1. dan says:

    Did you check out the weather? I remember arguing with someone about opening day, and last year it was rainy and cold. I remember last April and May being poor, baseball wise. If you factor the day of the week and the weather, I wonder if their attendance is really up that much

  2. JC says:

    Feel free to investigate.

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