MLB draws 45.3M as fans return, down from 68.5M before COVID

Fans stand as they watch Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Liam Hendriks work during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Chicago, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball drew 45.3 million fans this year as fans gradually were allowed to return, down from 68.5 million over 2019 in the last season before the coronavirus pandemic.

The Los Angeles Dodgers led the major leagues in home attendance at 2.8 million. They did not start selling full capacity until games in mid-June.

This year’s MLB season averaged 18,901 for 2,397 dates, the commissioner’s office said Monday.

Atlanta was second at 2.3 million, followed by San Diego at 2.2 million, Texas and St. Louis at 2.1 million and Houston at 2.07 million.

The New York Yankees drew 1.96 million, Boston 1.7 million and the Mets 1.5 million in Steven Cohen’s first season as owner.

Miami was last at 640,000, Oakland 29th at 700,000, Tampa Bay 28th at 760,000, Baltimore 27th at 790,000 and Toronto 26th at 800,000.

The Blue Jays played home games at their spring training ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, and then their Triple-A ballpark in Buffalo, New York, before returning home on July 30 to the Rogers Centre, where capacity reached a maximum of about 29,000 in late September.

Only Texas began the 2021 season at 100% capacity, with other U.S, teams reaching full capacity availability ranging from Atlanta on May 7 to Seattle on July 2.

Other dates for reaching full capacity were Arizona (May 25), Boston (May 29), Kansas City (May 31), Baltimore (June 1), Cincinnati and Cleveland (June 2). Philadelphia (June 4), Detroit (June 8), the Chicago Cubs and Washington (June 11), Philadelphia (June 12), St. Louis (June 14), the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego (June 17), the Yankees (June 18), the Mets (June 21), the Chicago White Sox, Houston, Milwaukee and San Francisco (June 25), Colorado (June 28), Oakland (June 29), Pittsburgh (July 1) and Minnesota and Tampa Bay (July 5).

MLB played a shortened 2020 schedule due to the pandemic, a regular season played entirely without fans.

A small percentage of capacity was sold for neutral site postseason games in Arlington, Texas, where 75,843 attended the Dodgers’ win over Atlanta in the seven-game NL Championship Series and 68,622 attended the Dodgers’ victory over Tampa Bay in a six-game World Series.

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