Is Baseball a “Dying” Sport?

Baseball on the Chalk Line of the Infield

By Colby Hopkins 

Invented in 1876 in Cincinnati, Ohio, baseball has played a prominent role in helping shape the nation to what it is today. Through the hardships of several world wars and the tough times of some economic depressions, it’s always been a game that has brought people together. For that reason, baseball has always been labeled as “America’s Pastime”.  Despite all the sport has done to help develop the nation to its current position and has been able to withstand some of the hardest times for citizens across the United States, many see it as a “dying” sport, as viewership has started to see a sharp decline. With this intense decrease in the number of general viewers, many question the survival of “America’s Pastime”.  

One of, if not the biggest, indicators of a sport’s success is the attendance at each event.  When looking at some of the statistics regarding attendance at the professional baseball level, there are some eye-opening trends. According to Forbes, the Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season saw a total attendance of 64,566,636 throughout the whole regular season. While that may seem like a lot, it was a 5.9% drop in attendance when comparing it to pre-COVID 2019 (Brown, 2022). That sharp decline wasn’t just a rarity either. Looking at the long-term attendance, the league has seen a drop in attendance for the past nine seasons dating back to the 2011-2012 season (2020 is excluded since there was no attendance due to COVID) leading to an overall 14% decline (Brown, 2022).

Although there could be a number of different reasons for this extreme fall in attendance (weather, jobs, costs, or just the general inability to attend the game in-person), there’s still a decline in viewership through media like television. Starting with the MLB all-star game, a game in which some of the most talented and popular stars of the game compete with each other on a national televised stage, there has been a glaring decrease in viewership dating back to the early 1990s. Since 1992, there has been a steady decline in the number of viewers, starting from 21.98 million in 1992 down to 7.51 million in 2022 (Gough, 2022). Even the World Series, the final championship series of the MLB, received an average viewership of 11.8 million viewers in 2022 which was down more than 50% in comparison to 2016 in which there was an average of 23.4 viewers that year (Gough, 2022). Taking the general viewership of the sport – both in-person and through television– into account, the argument that baseball is “dying” can be made.

However, even though there has been a general decline in viewership, the business of baseball is still thriving even in stadium revenues. Taking the typical day at the ballpark in 2022, the cost of a typical family of four to attend an MLB baseball game is $204.76 (Abdalazem, 2022). That includes the ticket prices for each individual, the cost of two beverages, four hot dogs, and parking. With the average MLB game drawing in 26,843 people per game, that’s about $1,374,093.17 of money generated solely off one in-person game (Cooper, 2022). Considering all the expenses that the stadium has to pay for during the game such as staffing, that still leaves a little more than $1,000,000 produced as the average cost of operating an MLB ballpark is about $300,000 (Kochkodin, 2020). With each MLB team having a total of 81 home games, that in total produces roughly $81,000,000 in stadium profits each year.

Another form of large profit that the MLB sees each year is through sponsorship deals. When attending an MLB game or just looking at a photograph of any team’s stadium, it’s hard to not notice the variety of company signs, billboards, and general advertisements throughout the stadium interior. Through this display of advertisements throughout the stadium and even other means of showcasing sponsors, the MLB was able to generate $1.13 billion in sponsorship revenue, which is right up there with the other two highest sponsors generating professional sports: the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States during the year 2021 (Badenhausen, 2022). With new expansions advocating towards features of sponsors on individual player’s jerseys, that number will more than likely continue to increase at a large rate. Taking all the different revenue generating capital of the MLB, the league was able to see a total of $9.56 billion in revenues in the year 2021. With the Los Angeles Dodgers, the MLB team with the highest revenue, seeing profits of $565 million and the Miami Marlins, the MLB team with the lowest revenue, bringing in $96 million, the average of the total revenue of all 30 MLB teams was at almost $219 million in the year 2021 (Gough, 2021).

Although baseball has started to see drastic decreases in their overall viewership, both in-person and through television, the sport of baseball is a business that will continue to operate as long as it is making a profit. For how long it will survive still remains an unanswered question; however, based on the current revenue being produced at the professional level, it still is and will remain as “America’s Pastime”.

Works Cited:

Abdalazem, Reem. “How Much Does It Cost to Take the Family to an MLB Game?” Diario AS, 28 July 2022,

Brown, Maury. “MLB Attendance for 2022 down Nearly 6% from 2019, Last Year before the Pandemic.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 12 Oct. 2022,

Gough, Christina. “MLB All-Star Viewers 2022.” Statista, 26 July 2022,

Gough, Christina. “MLB Revenue by Team US 2021.” Statista, 27 May 2022,

Gough, Christina. “World Series Average TV Viewership U.S. 2022.” Statista, 15 Nov. 2022,

Kochkodin, Brandon, and Bloomberg. “For One MLB Team, Playing at an Empty Ballpark Could Increase Profits.” Fortune, Fortune, 17 June 2020,

Morales, Jose Francisco. “Photo by Jose Francisco Morales on Unsplash.” Beautiful Free Images & Pictures, 25 Mar. 2018,