Attendance up by under 1 percent

Updated: September 29, 2011, 4:14 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Another sellout at AT&T Park, a fine showing at Petco Park and a nice send-off at Sun Life Stadium.

In a season full of comebacks, Major League Baseball attendance also rallied.

MLB's average attendance rose by about half of 1 percent this year, ending three straight seasons of drops.

The World Series champion San Francisco Giants sold out every home game this year and drew rousing ovations in their wrapup Wednesday. San Diego drew more than 32,000 fans to Petco for the season finale against the Cubs while Florida attracted 34,615 at Sun Life, its last in that stadium before moving into a new ballpark next year.

The NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies led baseball's attendance chart for the first time, drawing 3,680,718 fans. The Phillies have had 204 straight regular-season sellouts at Citizens Bank Park -- Boston has sold out 712 straight games at Fenway Park.

The overall attendance of 73,425,568 this year was the fifth-highest in MLB history.

The 30 teams combined to average 30,229, STATS LLC said after the regular season ended Wednesday night. That was up from 30,067 last year,

"The resiliency of our sport never ceases to amaze," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.

This year's attendance remained nearly 8 percent below the record 32,785 set in 2007. During the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009, the average dropped to 32,528 in 2008 and 30,350 the following year.

Cleveland had the biggest percentage increase, up 31 percent to an average of 22,726. Other teams with big jumps were Pittsburgh (22 percent to 24,255) and Texas (18 percent to 36,382).

Despite a thrilling run to the AL wild card, Tampa Bay dropped a big league-high 19 percent to 18,846. The Rays drew 29,518 on Wednesday night for their thrilling 8-7 win in 12 innings over the Yankees that put them into the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, beset by financial problems and a bitter divorce for owner Frank McCourt, fell 18 percent to 36,236 and failed to draw 3 million in a non-strike year for the first time since 1992.

Houston, which lost a team-record 106 games, sank 11 percent to 25,546.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press