(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.
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