The minor league season may not conclude until Monday, but a new attendance champion could very well be crowned by the end of Thursday evening. The Charlotte Knights hold the slimmest of leads over the Round Rock Express—averaging just 115 more fans through last night’s games—with each team having just two more home games on the schedule. Whichever team pulls in the biggest late-season crowds are likely to take the attendance crown from the defending champion Indianapolis Indians.
Then again, there could be a dark horse looming in this race. More on that in a minute . . .
A weeknight game in late August can be a tough time of year for a team to pad its attendance figures, and that proved to be the case for Charlotte (International League) and Round Rock (Pacific Coast) last night. The Knights drew 8,437 fans to BB&T Ballpark last night, slightly below their season average of 8,932. Meanwhile, the Express also saw their average attendance take a dip to 8,817 after bringing in 7,134 fans to Dell Diamond.
Round Rock does hold the edge over the Knights in total attendance by a 599,537 to 598,413 margin, but will also have the benefit of one more home date; the Knights are not making up a previous cancellation.
The defending attendance champions might be down after a challenging start to the season, but they are not out of the running just yet.
The Indianapolis Indians topped the minors last season by averaging 9,159 fans per game but saw their chances of repeating take a significant hit during a cold and miserable month of April this season. The International League franchise has slowly and steadily chipped away at the lead held by the Charlotte Knights, Round Rock Express and Nashville Sounds, moving up from sixth place last week to fourth place in the current attendance standings.
Through Sunday’s games, the Indians were averaging 8,229 fans per game at Victory Field, trailing Charlotte (8,857), Round Rock (8,848) and Nashville (8,450). While the odds of closing the gap between the top three teams remain long—the Indians are currently about 25,000 fans off of their total from last season—a recent homestand in which the team averaged 10,423 fans per game has put them back in the running.
Goodness gracious, the trend continues. The top crowd of yesterday came on—wait for it—an Education Day promotion. This time the kids in Indianapolis took a break from school by filling Victory Field with 12,279 screaming schoolchildren. Not bad for a Tuesday afternoon.