* Attendence at independent league games was over 7.3 million this season, including 400,000 in the four-team Can-Am League which expands from four to six teams next season. OF Sebastien Boucher (Gatineau, Ont.) and RHP Karl Gelinas (Iberville, Que.) earned the Canadian Baseball Network indy player and pitcher of the year honors for 2014.
Indy ball attendance continues to impress
By Devon Teeple
The 2014 season was another outstanding year for attendance in the Independent baseball.
For those not familiar with “Indy Ball”, you can say that it’s a farm system for affiliated minor league baseball without the affiliations. Of course its popularity can’t rival MiLB or even close to what MLB is putting on the field today. According to Maury Brown, MLB contributor to Forbes, MLB saw a record, $9 billion in revenue this season. Mind-boggling if you ask me.
Independent Baseball saw record numbers; 8,485,921, set in 2007. Since, the numbers haven’t been that high due to fewer leagues and teams. Even though, yearly attendance averages upwards of 7.3 million.
Without going into immense detail about why each league is up or down in attendance (that will be discussed at a later date), the Atlantic League has proven once again, that they have what fans want. The ATL is an eight-team league with six of its clubs bringing in more than 250,000 through the turnstile. Averaging more than 4,151 per, clearly they are the most popular league by far; witnessing 2.2 million attend games in 2014.
The American Association, equal on par with the talent that they put on the field, came in second amongst the five Indy leagues in attendance with 1,885,998, averaging 3,332 per game.
The Frontier League, the most constant entity surrounding an always-changing landscape, has been around since 1993, the longest of any league currently operating, saw 1,444,332 attend games in 2014. Not quite as many as in 2013, but impressive to say the least.
The Can-Am League, the last of the big “4”, is expanding from four to six teams in 2015. With the inclusion of a third Canadian team (Ottawa Champions) and Sussex County Miners, attendance will more than likely see a spike. More than 400,000 paid to watch their product in 2014, down more than 10 percent from last year.
United League Baseball has been excessively erratic over the years. In operation from 2006 to 2010, they merged with the North American League before it folded in 2012.The ULB did return for 2013 season. In 2014, the league completed a shortened season and is looking to possibly expand. Not much information was available. Attendance for the league topped out at 105,696.