Major League Baseball (MLB) saw its best Sunday figures in 15 years over the weekend as more than 600,000 attended games.
The 15 games played on Sunday attracted an average crowd of 37,706, which was the best average crowd on a Sunday since June 2014. MLB said last week that internal projections point to a full-season attendance lift of 6% to 8%, in part thanks to well-publicised rule changes designed to make games more fan-friendly.
In total, some 603,303 fans attended games across the country, which was the most on a Sunday since September 2008 – when George W Bush was still the US President. The 2008 figure of 612,669 was boosted by an extra game compared to 2023.
The strong showing also meant it was the first back-to-back weekends of more than 1.5 million fans coming to MLB games since 2017.
In total, 1,588,440 attended 45 games over the weekend at an average of 35,299. This was the largest weekend total before July since June 16-18, 2017, which featured 46 games.
MLB said in a statement: “Over Father’s Day weekend, America’s national pastime set some notable attendance milestones.
“Besides record-setting attendance marks, one more trait that June 18, 2023, and Sept. 28, 2008, had in common is that both days had 16 games, specifically due to a Red Sox-Yankees doubleheader occurring on each day.”
In 2022, before MLB made a series of rule changes with an eye towards jazzing up the game, including a pitch clock to reduce the duration of games, total attendance for major league games was 64.56 million, the lowest figure since 1997, the year before the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks were added to the league.
Other changes include larger bases and a ban on extreme defensive shifts, which have generated an immediate reduction in average game times by around 24 minutes year-on-year. 22 of MLB’s 30 clubs are currently up in attendance.