Authors: Mitchell T. Woltring, University of South Alabama
Mitchell T. Woltring, Ph.D.
171 Jaguar Drive
Dr. Mitchell Woltring is an assistant professor of Sport Management at the University of South Alabama. He teaches undergraduate classes in the Leisure Studies program which serves both sport management and therapeutic recreation students. He received his Ph.D. in Human Performance from Middle Tennessee State University, an M.S. in Sport Management from Middle Tennessee State University, and a B.S. in Sport Management from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He has worked in the sport industry with several baseball teams at the MLB, college, and amateur levels, as well as coaching at the high school level.
Attendance Still Matters in MLB: The Relationship with Winning Percentage
The relationship between average attendance and winning percentage for Major League Baseball (MLB) teams across a 16-year period, from 1998-2013 was investigated. Attendance in baseball is an important topic because with a schedule at least twice as long as any other major North American league, MLB has the potential to gain a competitive advantage by maximizing attendance.
The relationship between attendance and winning percentage has been researched by looking at how winning percentage affects future attendance (3, 7). However, there is also evidence of a bidirectional relationship between attendance and winning percentage which suggests that attendance could be acting on winning percentage (3, 6). The excitement caused by a capacity crowd has the potential to influence the home team to perform better, which is exhibited by Baade and Tiehen’s postulation that attendance of at least 75% of stadium capacity can, “generate a different sense of excitement” (1).
An innovative method to examine attendance was used; rather than relying on aggregate attendance numbers, average attendance was recorded as a proportion of total stadium capacity. MLB stadiums range in capacity from 34,078 to 56,000, so aggregate numbers do not accurately reflect the potential differences in attendance between teams.
Four different statistical analyses were run which controlled for year, stadium capacity, and team payroll to determine the relationship between average attendance measured as a proportion of stadium capacity and winning percentage. Analyses of crosstabs, ANOVA, regression, and logistic regression all found a significant relationship between average attendance as a proportion of stadium capacity and winning percentage. Based on the research question, regression analysis proved to be the most applicable of the results. Regression results showed that average attendance as a proportion of stadium capacity was positively related to winning percentage, R2 = .242, p <.001.
The results indicate that attendance has the potential to increase winning percentage, which should be of interest to any MLB team. It should especially be of interest considering that over the course of the present study, MLB stadiums were only filled to 67% capacity.