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MiLB tops five million April Fans05/05/2009 4:41 PM ET
Minor League Baseball
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Minor League Baseball attracted more than five million fans to its April games for the ninth straight year. The 11 full-season leagues and 136 clubs, despite starting a week later than last year, drew 5,259,405 fans.
The average April crowd for the 1,414 openings was 3,720. The last time the domestic Minor League Baseball regular season began on April 8, as it did this year, was 2004. That year an average of 3,480 fans attended April games, 240 a game fewer than this year's crowds.
Given the state of the economy, the fact that this year's average through April is only 0.7 percent, or 25 fans, below last year's number of 3,745 patrons a game is promising. Last year, more than 6.6 million fans attended games in April, thanks to 366 more openings, as MiLB was on its way to a fifth consecutive all-time record-breaking annual attendance total.
"While our overall attendance is below a year ago, we are encouraged that the opening-for-opening average attendance is off only a fraction of one percentage point," said Minor League Baseball president, Pat O'Conner. "We are committed to working with our communities, and legions of fans, to make sure that Minor League Baseball is available and affordable in each of our cities. We are proud to provide recreational options for the country in these difficult economic times."
Six leagues averaged more per opening than they did in 2008, including three circuits that posted double-digit improvements in their average April crowds over last year. The Florida State League led the way with a 23.1 percent spike in its average crowd, followed by the Midwest (11.2) and Eastern (10.1) leagues. The other leagues showing improvement were the South Atlantic (8.8), International (7.4) and Southern (4.6).