MLB Ballpark Seating Capacities 1920-2010

Mlb_chart_medium

(Click to embiggen for optimal cromulence)

Along the lines of my previous research into MLB and NFL stadium construction trends, here's an approach from a different angle. The capacity of the average ballpark over time tells us a quite a bit about the environs in which we play and celebrate the national pastime.

In the chart above, we see three discrete eras of ballpark construction:

  • 1920-1945: As pro baseball grows in popularity, organizations and municipalities build larger facilities to house a burgeoning fan base.
  • 1960-1980: With the rise of pro football and a decline in municipal finances, teams move into larger, multipurpose facilities.
  • 1990-2010: The stadium boom that begins with Camden Yards signals a trend of customized ballparks with more reasonable seating capacities.

MLB park capacities reached their peak in 1993 at a high mean of 52,889. Average capacities would have peaked at an earlier date if it weren't for the expansion Colorado Rockies playing at cavernous Mile High Stadium in their inaugural season.

Raw data after the jump.

As in the last two posts, shared stadia are counted but once. In years when a team spent significant time in two parks, I used a weighted average of the capacities of both parks. This includes situations such as when the Mariners moved from the Kingdome to Safeco mid-season, but not seasons such as when the Expos played a couple of games in San Juan for promotional purposes. Standing room capacity is not included.

Year Mean Capacity Year Mean Capacity Year Mean Capacity
1920 25,865 1930 36,515 1940 41,195
1921 26,516 1931 36,515 1941 41,225
1922 26,516 1932 36,515 1942 41,094
1923 30,887 1933 36,515 1943 41,094
1924 30,887 1934 36,515 1944 41,094
1925 31,815 1935 36,515 1945 41,094
1926 33,244 1936 36,515 1946 41,094
1927 37,772 1937 38,809 1947 45,255
1928 36,823 1938 41,225 1948 44,793
1929 36,601 1939 41,195 1949 44,793
1950 44,793 1960 43,054 1970 46,532
1951 44,644 1961 41,584 1971 48,715
1952 44,642 1962 43,789 1972 48,996
1953 44,037 1963 43,789 1973 48,991
1954 44,837 1964 44,300 1974 48,418
1955 43,868 1965 44,915 1975 49,170
1956 43,868 1966 46,212 1976 49,324
1957 43,868 1967 46,372 1977 50,022
1958 41,711 1968 47,275 1978 50,222
1959 41,711 1969 44,984 1979 51,379
1980 51,282 1990 52,781 2000 48,503
1981 51,418 1991 52,440 2001 47,258
1982 51,900 1992 52,339 2002 47,258
1983 51,881 1993 52,889 2003 47,360
1984 52,164 1994 51,981 2004 45,867
1985 52,182 1995 51,055 2005 45,984
1986 52,235 1996 51,087 2006 46,009
1987 52,194 1997 50,214 2007 46,048
1988 52,233 1998 50,360 2008 45,970
1989 52,557 1999 50,157 2009 45,425
2010 44,841
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