PRESS RELEASE – A total of 41,832,364 fans passed through the gates at Minor League Baseball games in 2017, the fifth-highest attendance total in the history of the organization, which was established in 1901.
Minor League Baseball’s 176 teams in 15 leagues drew over 41 million fans for the 13th consecutive season with overall attendance increasing 1.1 percent (455,162 fans) over 2016 and average attendance rising 2.4 percent (from 3,998 to 4,095) over last season.
The 2017 season saw 14 teams set single-season franchise attendance records (Asheville Tourists, Charleston RiverDogs, Clearwater Threshers, Columbia Fireflies, Hartford Yard Goats, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Johnson City Cardinals, Pulaski Yankees, St. Lucie Mets, South Bend Cubs, Spokane Indians, Tennessee Smokies, Vancouver Canadians and Visalia Rawhide), while 22 teams established franchise records for largest single-game attendance (Akron RubberDucks, Augusta GreenJackets, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Columbia Fireflies, Connecticut Tigers, Durham Bulls, Fort Myers Miracle, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Hartford Yard Goats, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Johnson City Cardinals, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Memphis Redbirds, Missoula Osprey, Oklahoma City Dodgers, Omaha Storm Chasers, Pulaski Yankees, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Tacoma Rainiers, Tennessee Smokies and Toledo Mud Hens).
Despite 97 more rainouts than in 2016, 83 teams saw an increase in average attendance over 2016 and 75 teams had increases in total attendance over last season. Fourteen teams saw their season attendance total increase by over 20 percent over 2016.
The Dayton Dragons’ streak of consecutive sellouts, the longest in professional sports history, sits at 1,246 games (began during the 2000 season), while the Frisco RoughRiders led the Double-A classification in attendance for the 13th consecutive season. The Clearwater Threshers recorded the second-highest total (200,201) in Florida State League history and the South Bend Cubs set a new franchise attendance record for the fourth consecutive season.
“Minor League Baseball offers what I believe is the best entertainment value in sports, and these numbers support that,” said President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “For attendance to rise despite a record number of rainouts is a testament to the hard work and efforts by all 160 of our teams and to the loyal fan bases that continue to support them in record numbers.”
The Triple-A Indianapolis Indians led all teams in total attendance for the second straight year, as 641,141 fans visited Victory Field this season. Indianapolis also led all teams in average attendance (9,159). The Hartford Yard Goats drew 395,196 fans in the inaugural season at Dunkin Donuts Park, the only new ballpark to open in Minor League Baseball in 2017. Since 2000, Minor League Baseball clubs have opened 63 new ballparks, with a new stadium scheduled to open in Augusta, Georgia, in April 2018.
The attendance leaders in each classification of Minor League Baseball and their overall numbers were: Triple-A — Indianapolis Indians (641,141), Double-A — Frisco RoughRiders (470,003), Class A — Dayton Dragons (554,638), Short Season-A and Rookie — Vancouver Canadians (239,527).
New York Mets outfielder Tim Tebow had a hand in the new franchise attendance records for Mets affiliates in Columbia, South Carolina, and in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and his presence led to attendance spikes in the South Atlantic League (2.1 percent increase over 2016) and the Florida State League (12.4 percent increase over 2016). Tebow created an increase of over 225,000 fans between those two leagues based on team attendance averages in games against Tebow’s team versus games against other teams in those leagues.