13 Pro Teams Running Out of Fans

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5. Dallas Stars
> 10-yr. attendance decline: -23.2%
> 2001-2002 W-L record: 36-28-13-5 (4th in Pacific Division)
> 2011-2012 W-L record: 42-35-5 (4th in Pacific Division)
> League championships last decade: none

In the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 seasons, the Dallas Stars made the Stanley Cup Finals twice, winning the first time and losing the second. The team then made the playoffs every season but once through the 2007-2008 season, but has since dropped off. The Stars have missed the playoffs in each of the last four seasons. In the 2001-2002 season, the Stars had a brand-new stadium, American Airlines Center, drawing an average home crowd of 18,532. By the 2011-2012 season, average attendance had dropped to 14,226 and an average of just 76.8% of capacity, the third-worst in the NHL.

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4. Arizona Diamondbacks 
> 10-yr. attendance decline: -32.0%
> 2002 W-L record: 98-64 (finished 1st in NL West)
> 2012 W-L record: 81-81 (finished 3rd in NL West)
> League championships last decade: None

Attendance to Diamondback games has declined by nearly a third in a 10-year span. But the Arizona diamondbacks were on a roll 10 years ago, which helped fill stadium seats. After coming off their 2001 World Series win, they won 98 games in 2002, making them the second-best team in the National League that year. Since then, however, the Diamondbacks have made it to the playoffs only twice: they lost the pennant series in 2007 and the division series in 2011. Despite this, the team recorded an operating profit of $27 million in 2012, which compared to eight figure annual losses recorded in each year between 2003 and 2005.

3. Houston Astros
> 10-yr. attendance decline: -36.1%
> 2002 W-L record: 84-78 (finished 2nd in NL Central)
> 2012 W-L record: 55-107 (finished 6th in AL Central)
> League championships last decade: None

In the 2012 season the Astros again finished last place in their division with a record of just 55 wins and a whopping 107 losses. This was a far cry from their 2004 and 2005 seasons. In 2004 they made the playoffs, and in the 2005 season they made it to the World Series. Past teams featured stars such as Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, and Roy Oswalt. The team’s stadium, Minute Maid Park, is relatively new, first opening in 2000, but as the stadium has aged attendance has fallen. In 2002, the team averaged 31,079 fans per home game, filling 73.7% of the stadium. Last year, less than 20,000 tickets were sold for the average Astros game, filling less than half the stadium’s capacity on average.

2. Cleveland Indians
> 10-yr. attendance decline: -38.7%
> 2002 W-L record: 74-88 (finished 3rd in AL Central)
> 2012 W-L record: 68-94 (finished 4th in AL Central)
> League championships last decade: none

The Cleveland Indians were a dominant team back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the team making the playoffs every year from 1995 to 1999 and in 2001. Since then, things have gone downhill. The team has only been to the playoffs once, in 2007, and that was the last year the team won more games than it lost in a season. The team hasn’t been doling out more cash to get stronger players either — player expenses have gone down every year since 2009 when player expenses totaled $95 million. In 2012, player expenses totaled just $69 million. The most valuable MLB team, the New York Yankees, spent $227 million.

1. Seattle Mariners
> 10-yr. attendance decline: -51.4%
> 2002 W-L record: 93-69 (finished 3rd in AL West)
> 2012 W-L record: 75-87 (finished 4th in AL West)
> League championships last decade: None

Since tying a MLB record with 116 wins in 2001, the Mariners have frequently struggled. In 2012, Seattle finished last in its division with a record of 75 wins and 87 losses. The Mariners also traded away Ichiro Suzuki, whose career included most valuable player and rookie of the year awards, and breaking the record for most hits in a season. Although several good players remain, such as perfect game pitcher Felix Hernandez, the team has been unable to keep fans interested. Not only has average attendance declined a major league sports-leading 51.4%, but stadium capacity last season was an MLB-low 44.4%. Over the last 10 years, season ticket sales have declined by 61%. The team has even attempted to move outfield fences inward to create a better on-field product.

-Michael B. Sauter, Alexander E.M. Hess, Samuel Weigley

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