Marketing analyst David Kronheim has been compiling reports on attendance for the major and minor leagues for several years and his conclusions about the 2013 season are quite extensive and can be found here at numbertamer.com.
The most obvious figure is that the minor leagues continue to boom with attendance exceeding 41.5 million fans in 2013, up almost 275,000 from 2012. Impressively, the 21st century is a all-time peak for minor league baseball with new stadiums being built all over the US (including three that opened in 2013) and with teams breaking attendance records all over including the Carolina League (which set a record for total attendance) and the Midwest League, which set a record for highest per-date average for a Class-A league. Six teams set attendance record: Carmen, Midland, Potomac and Bradenton with Vancouver and Connecticut (Norwich) setting records for short-season teams in those cities.
One of the key points that Kronheim makes in his report is that attendance was up despite there being 249 fewer dates (combined between affiliated and independent minor league baseball leagues) and 13 of the 15 affiliated minor leagues had fewer dates on which games were played, mostly due to the weather. The Midwest League had its second highest attendance total of all time despite 41 fewer dates than in 2012.
Dayton, home of the Cincinnati Reds’ Class-A affiliate Dragons, was one of the true standouts. With a Fifth Third Field opened in 2000 and a renovated playing field installed in 2012, the Dragons not only led the Midwest League in attendance but averaged 8,405 fans per home date putting them amongst some of the biggest successes in the minor leagues. They were the only Class-A club to top 500,000 fans for the season and were in a group of franchises that is normally reserved for Triple-A teams.
Not all the news was good with the Pacific Coast League having its lowest attendance since 2001 and its lowest average attendance per date since 1999. The Dunedin Blue Jays had the lowest attendance for a full-season team with just 50,695 coming to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. The Blue Jays are currently looking at other options for their Spring Training home and are likely to move out of Dunedin in the coming years. The Bristol White Sox had the lowest short-season attendance with 20,309 fans in 2013. Interestingly, the White Sox decided to leave the Appalachian League and the Bristol franchise will be a Pirates affiliate in 2014.