Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Stadium Attendance for Baseball: A Case Study

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Stadium Attendance for Baseball: A Case Study

Article excerpt


Teaching a principles of economics course leads inevitably to an exposition of Supply and Demand curves and their elasticities. Many of us struggle to find real world examples of the polar cases (perfectly elastic demand or supply) to present to our students. In this paper, we have developed a model using perfectly elastic supply in stadium attendance for a local non-professional baseball team. The team under consideration here is the Madison Mallards, which played for the first time in 2001. Since that time, it has never raised seating prices and does not sell out games, leading to a situation of perfectly elastic supply (see Figure 1).

This example becomes one in which we examine Demand shifts to determine the increases in attendance. Among the demand factors that could be pushing demand, the traditional factors of area population, area income, alternative choices, and 'tastes' need to be considered. As the prices of alternative entertainment choices did not vary in any significant way in this area during the time period in question (we looked at movie ticket prices, etc), that option was discarded. When we look at 'tastes' for entertainment, a class discussion regarding why a person (or family) might choose an amateur league baseball outing over other choices can be quite illustrative. For example, choosing an outdoor entertainment choice over, say, going to a museum or library, the weather could play a role. Sports economics would suggest that the team's performance record should matter, as most people prefer to witness a 'win' by the home team rather than otherwise, so team stats should have some explanatory power here. Though if that were the only factor pulling fans, one would expect that higher levels of play in the Major leagues would draw substantially larger crowds. Our analysis of their attendance explores not only the traditionally accepted explanatory variables of performance outcome and environmental concerns common in Sports Economics (see Rasher, 1999 among others) but also the various types of promotions used by the Mallards' ownership to attract patrons. It is this last set of variables that prove to be highly instrumental in explaining attendance--providing a lesson perhaps for other teams.


We examine the attendance record of this team since its inception in 2001 and covering the subsequent 153 home games. We note that this team's experience is unique in that it attracts fans far in excess of what would be expected given the league in which it plays. Indeed, Figure 2 shows the Mallards attendance figures compared to the league average.


It is clear that there is something unusual about the Mallards as a team and their ability to draw fans. Therefore, this paper examines the Mallards Stadium attendance not only as a stand-alone example of Supply and Demand, but through the precepts of Sports Economics, a fast-growing sub-discipline of economics that has set precedent for studies of this type.

The Mallards play in the Northwoods League of non-professional Spring season baseball using college level players seeking to gain league experience without losing their collegiate eligibility. This team plays in its own stadium near the community of Madison, WI, a community far from bereft of entertainment possibilities. Indeed, there are even two local farm teams (the Beloit Snappers and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers) that play within a reasonable driving distance of the Mallards, as well as the Milwaukee Brewers major league team. In 2001, the Northwoods League consisted of seven teams besides the Mallards. Since then, the league has expanded twice, for a total of twelve teams. Within this league, the Mallards are something of an attendance phenomenon. During their first year in the league, they had their smallest total attendance, placing them at the midway point in the entire league. …

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