Analysis

Phillies home attendance is up from 2016, for now …

While the Phillies are in the middle of one of their worst slumps in recent memory, including losing 20 of their last 24 games, home attendance so far is higher than it was in 2016.

Citizens Bank Park is averaging 27,896 fans per game, an increase of 2,728.

The biggest surprise is how the attendance stacks up against the attendance of other teams. It makes sense that teams would draw more fans early in the season, when fans are excited for the season to start and even bad teams can feel like a Cinderella story in waiting. But the Phillies have seen a much bigger boost than most teams, experiencing the fifth-largest increase in the league.

The teams showing bigger fan growth than the Phils have reasons to rank as highly as they do. The Braves top the chart, which should be expected of a team playing its first season in a new stadium. They’re followed by Cleveland, who nearly won the World Series months ago, and the Orioles, another playoff participant in 2016. The Nationals just barely edge out the Phillies, averaging only 71 more fans per game despite being one of baseball’s elite teams so far.

But the Phillies were bad last year, and they’re bad again this year. With how the last few weeks have gone, fans of other teams have more reasons to visit CBP than the locals do.

It’s possible that’s part of the explanation, in fact. The Phillies have played a lot of their early games against the Nationals and Mets, whose fans are abundant and not too far from Philadelphia to make the trek. Part of the attendance boost probably comes from fans of other teams, akin to how Phillies fans would fill the bleachers against struggling Nationals teams during their run.

The bigger truth is that the boost is probably owed to the team’s April play rewarding the fans’ early excitement. They were 11-9 on April 27, their best mark of the season and the result of a six-game winning streak. The Phillies started last year strong, too, but the season’s overall attendance is dragged down by poor post-April play making the journey to the stadium less appealing.

The attendance at home games will probably continue to drop as the year goes on, especially if the team doesn’t see a drastic turnaround. On May 23, when the Phillies lost their third consecutive game, attendance was 17,109. If that number holds for the remaining 62 home games, they would end the year with an average home attendance of 19,639, which is actually well below last season’s mark.

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