The old line is “Root, root, root for the home team”, but sometimes fans from the visiting team show up to crash the party. At The Renaissance Fan we are interested in fandom and the fan experience. So, we wanted to explore which baseball teams bring in the highest attendance when they are the road team.
Now, an attendance bump from a visiting team could be the result of several factors:
- Fans from that visiting team travel well and attend a lot of their road games.
- Fans from that visiting team are spread throughout the country and take advantage of the chance to see their team when they come to town.
- Fans of the home team come out in greater numbers to see games against certain visiting teams.
It’s likely an attendance bump could be a little of all three. You can certainly tell when fans from the visiting team show up because they stick out like a sore thumb and are often pretty obnoxious to be around.
So, to answer our question of which specific away teams boost attendance the most we grabbed the game attendance for each MLB club over the last 10 years. For each team we sorted the data to include only games where they were the away team and found the overall average. We then found an average for the whole league during this time (which happens to be about 31,000 fans, if you were curious). By taking each team’s road average minus the league average we get either a positive or negative number. Positive numbers represent a team boosting attendance when they visit another park. Negative values mean that attendance actually dips a bit when those teams come to town, compared to an average game of course.
The Teams That Boost Attendance
Let’s get into the results, starting with the teams that boost attendance when they are out on the road. The Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants are the top five teams with the highest average road game attendance. At the top, the Yankees boost attendance by about 3,700 people compared to average.
It was encouraging to see a mix of East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast teams which indicates there isn’t a strong regional bias at play here. So what do these clubs have in common? They are all older franchises with lots of fans. In fact, care to guess which five teams have the have the most fans on Facebook (our modern metric of popularity)? You guessed it, the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Dodgers, and Cubs (so a slightly different order, but the same teams). This probably explains the attendance bump. These clubs have fans all across the country that show up to games when their team is in town. There’s also a lot more NL teams that generate attendance bumps than one might expect. No explanation for that at this time.
An increase of a few thousand fans here or there might not sound like that big a deal, until you put this attendance boost in terms of dollar amounts. We’ll just look at ticket prices for this calculation in the interest of simplicity, though as we know there are a lot more costs associated with attending a game. The average MLB ticket is $39. If we apply that to our attendance increases from earlier, we find out that other clubs make an extra $109,579 per game when the Yankees come to town (compared to average attendance). The extra revenue from the other top clubs is not too shabby either, with the Red Sox bringing in $85,678, the Cubs $82,444, the Dodgers $77,227, and the Giants $67,097. The Brewers generated the smallest change in game attendance that was an increase over average which would still be a ticket revenue bump of $9,361.
The Teams That Don’t
So as you probably guessed, if your team wasn’t on the above figure they are on this one, the teams that actually hurt attendance compared to average:
Apparently nobody gets too excited when the Rangers come to town, and that does not boost attendance. The opposite in fact. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to see Toronto ranking this low, needing a passport to go see your team on the road might be a bit of a deterrent. Again, not sure why so many AL teams make up the bottom half. Could this have something to do with the DH rule somehow? If you have thoughts on this share them in the comments.