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Northern League Leads Independent League Attendance Surge

09/29/2010 9:05 AM -

Written by Bob Wirz and originally published in the Independent Baseball Insider. To subscribe to the Independent Baseball Insider, visit

Strengthened by the addition of two more teams in the Northern League and with gains reported in three other leagues, independent baseball attendance climbed back above 8 million fans for the 2010 regular season.  It is the third time in four years the non-affiliated clubs have drawn above that level, this time finishing at 8,130,646.  Last year’s count was 7,965,235.

The Atlantic League, which plays a much longer schedule and had three of the top six clubs luring the most fans on a per-game basis, continued to set the pace in attendance, this season drawing 2,151,416 spectators to go over 23 million for its 13 seasons.  The 12-team Frontier League (1,498,061) was at the top for the other seven leagues which play, at most, 100 games per team.  The Northern League (1,478,694) was right behind with the addition of Lake County (Zion, IL) and Rockford, IL, both of whom topped 125,000.  The Northern’s gain of 258,394 fans was easily the largest climb.  Golden League attendance was up by 111,285, most of which came from its new teams on the Hawaiian island of Maui and Tijuana, Mexico, even though the latter had stadium issues at the end of the year and finished playing entirely on the road.

Long Island, NY, which perennially has the best overall attendance, also drew the best average turnout this season.  The Atlantic League team had total attendance of 410,619 with an above capacity average of 6,038 for 68 home openings.  Winnipeg, CA (Northern) slipped to second in average at 5,654, followed by Kansas City, KS (Northern) at 5,507, Somerset, NJ (Atlantic) at 5,354, St. Paul, MN (American Association) 5,063 and Lancaster, PA (Atlantic) 4,887.

The Atlantic League averaged nearly 4,000 fans for every opening in the eight cities (3,992) with the Northern closely behind at 3,841 per game.  Twenty of the 64 teams averaged 3,000 fans per game.

18 Indy Teams Break Top 100 in Minor League Attendance

The next time someone from major or minor league baseball offices lashes out against the independent leagues, they can be politely reminded that 18 of the top 100 minor league teams in average attendance per opening in 2010 came from the non-affiliated ranks, according to a list compiled by  Long Island, NY, the top Indy draw, came in at No. 28, with no less than a dozen Class AAA teams trailing the Ducks.  Only four of the 30 Class AA teams topped the Atlantic League franchise.