Baseball returned this year with no more pandemic-related restrictions for fans, but they didn’t exactly return in droves to the K. Not counting the last two seasons where attendance was restricted due to social distancing, the Royals had their worst per-game attendance since 1975, averaging just 15,773 fans per game for the year. With the home schedule now completed, the Royals drew a total of 1,277,644 fans, marking a 10 percent increase from 2021, when attendance was restricted in April, but down 13.6 percent from 2019, the last unrestricted year.
Royals attendance since 2015
*-fans were not allowed to attend games in 2020 and were restricted in April 2021 due to the pandemic
There is still a week of games around the league, but overall attendance figures are down 5.6 percent from 2019, with an average of 26,517 fans per game. If those numbers hold, it would be baseball’s worst non-pandemic-related attendance season since 1996. The pandemic and an off-season work stoppage may have hurt baseball attendance, although numbers have been sliding since the sport peaked in attendance with 32,696 fans-per-game in 2007.
Back in April, after the Royals drew small crowds, I raised some issues about why the team may be suffering from attendance woes. The team is on their way to losing well over 90 games this year, the fifth consecutive season they were well out of the pennant race by the trade deadline. Fan dissatisfaction with the direction of the ballclub may have been a factor in the dismissal of club president Dayton Moore. Ballpark costs have also made it harder for families to attend games - a study this summer found a Royals game was the 16th-most expensive in baseball for a family to attend. The lack of streaming coverage has also been an issue - games were not available on most streaming options without a cable subscription, and it wasn’t until July that Bally Sports Kansas City offered their own stream-only option. By then, many fans had forgotten to tune in.
Royals fans will come out to see a winner, they showed that in 2015 when the team drew a club-record 2.7 million fans. The team hasn’t given fans a reason to show up lately, and it will be up to owner John Sherman and General Manager J.J. Picollo to get the team back to winning and putting butts in the seats.