Back in 2010, the Yankees had the best attendance in all of baseball in terms of total attendance, with average home game attendance up to 46,491. It makes sense that attendance would be up following the team's 2009 World Serieswin. However, attendance has dropped every year since, with the exception of 2014, when it rebounded a bit, likely thanks to the Derek Jeter farewell tour. The Yankees had the fourth best attendance overall this year, but average attendance per game dropped to just 39,922. Oddly enough, the Yankees finished the season with their best record since 2012, and also made an appearance in the postseason, even if it was a brief one. For most of the season, the stadium seemed bizarrely empty, despite the fact that the team was playing well. Here are some possible reasons that attendance was down:
No playoffs back-to-back years
It's more fun to watch a winning team than a losing team, and 2013 and 2014 were admittedly tough years for the Yankees. Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez all missed the better part of the 2013 season with injuries, and the team finished in third place in the division with an 85-77 record. Attendance still averaged 40,448 people a game that season. 2014 will always be remembered as Jeter's final season, and as the year the rotation was decimated by injuries. Despite the fact that only one of the staters in their Opening Day rotation made it to the end of the season without landing on the disabled list, the Yankees ended the 2014 season 84-78, and attendance jumped up to an average of 42,520, again likely because fans wanted to see Jeter play one last game.
After the Yankees missed the postseason two years in a row, fans may have lowered their expectations for the 2015 squad. The team wasn't expected to do very well in the AL East, yet they ended up being in the hunt for the division title in the last few weeks of the season. Had the last home series against the Blue Jays gone differently, they very well could have won it, but attendance wasn't that great during that series either. Other than the doubleheader which 46,278 people attended, the average was down to roughly 40,000 for the other two games in the series. Again, it seems odd that the stadium wouldn't be full during an important series against division rivals. The Yankees finished with an 87-75 record, their best record since 2012, and ultimately lost the Wild Card game. The stadium was at full capacity during the playoff game, and the crowd was noticeably into the game (at least at the beginning) for one of the first times all season. The offense may have been boom or bust, but this was a much better team than the previous two years and attendance was worse this year, so it doesn't seem like team performance goes hand-in-hand with attendance.
High ticket prices
The Yankees had the second highest average ticket price this season at $51.55, trailing the Red Sox by a little less than a dollar. That is pretty steep considering that MLB's average ticket price is $28.94, but the Yankees actually didn't change their average ticket price this season. When it comes to premium ticket prices, the Yankees do have the highest average at $305.39 compared to MLB's average premium ticket price of $96.64. For the vast majority of home games this season, it was clear to see that the stadium was empty, especially behind home plate.
One thing that seemed more apparent this year than any other year in recent memory was the number of pre-game ceremonies that the Yankees held. They had individual ceremonies to honor Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada by retiring each of their numbers and presenting each of them with a plaque. Willie Randolph and Mel Stottlemyre were also honored with plaques in Monument Park on Old-Timers' Day. After refusing to pay Alex Rodriguez the bonus money that his 660th home run triggered on the basis that it wasn't marketable, the Yankees turned around a few months later and held a ceremony for his 3000th hit. These players undoubtedly deserved the ceremonies and the accolades they received, but it's also true that pre-game ceremonies are good for ticket sales. Attendance was well above 45,000 during the ceremonies for Williams, Pettitte and Posada, and up near full capacity on Old-Timers' Day. It will be interesting to see what ceremonies they come up with for next season. Derek Jeter Day will surely be one.
No recognizable names
After Jeter retired last year, there was a lot of talk about who would become the next "face of the Yankees." Of the homegrown players, Brett Gardner has been around the longest, but Masahiro Tanaka is the new ace of the rotation. Alex Rodriguez has seniority over everyone, since he's been with the team since 2004. Now that the season is over, it seems safe to say that no one became the new face of the team. The Yankees were very active over the offseason and brought in a ton of new faces including Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi and Chasen Shreve. When the trade deadline rolled around, the Yankees opted to stand pat and didn't bring in any of the big names such as David Price or Ben Zobrist. They even promoted prospects like Greg Bird and Luis Severino to help fill in for injured players. There are a lot of new, young players on the team, and it could be that Yankee fans are less interested in the team when they don't recognize very many of the players.
Why do you think attendance is down? Is it that most fans only care about playoff games? Are the ticket prices too high? Is there no one left to root for without Jeter?