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More than 73 million pack ballparks in '10

More than 73 million pack ballparks in '10

SAN FRANCISCO -- Major League Baseball attendance at the 30 ballparks soared over the 73 million mark for the seventh season in a row in 2010.

The seven years running are the seven best attended seasons in MLB history. Gross revenue for the sport is expected to be near the $7 billion mark for the first time, Commissioner Bud Selig said in August during the last quarterly owners' meetings in Minneapolis. In comparison, MLB's gross revenue was about $1 billion when Selig took over as interim commissioner in 1992.

"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am grateful to the fans and proud of the game," Selig said in a release. "Despite the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression, fans once again attended baseball games in extraordinary numbers. I applaud the efforts of the 30 clubs for being responsive to these challenging times with family-affordable promotions and initiatives.

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"With five new teams in the playoffs this year, competitive balance within the sport remains strong, and I am looking forward to a magnificent postseason."

The playoffs open Wednesday with a cross section of the new and old. The Rays were last in the postseason in 2008, the Braves in 2005, the Giants in 2003, the Rangers in 1999, and the Reds in 1995. Only the Yankees, Twins and Phillies are returnees from 2009, when New York prevailed over Philadelphia in six World Series games to win the club's 27th championship.

The defending World Series-champion Yankees, finishing their second season in the new Yankee Stadium, paced MLB with the highest total attendance (3,765,803) and average per game (46,491). Both were increases over 2009.

The two-time defending National League champion Phillies set new marks in total attendance (3,647,249) and average attendance (45,028) and led their league in both figures.

The Twins, who opened Target Field this year and played baseball outdoors for the first time since 1981, garnered the highest total attendance (3,223,640) since the team moved from Washington to the Twin Cities after the 1960 season.

In all, nine teams surpassed the 3 million mark and 15 teams averaged at least 30,000 a game, with the top five averaging in excess of 40,000. Twenty teams cracked at least the 2 million level at the gate.

Although MLB's total attendance is down 7 percent from 2008, it should be noted that the capacities of the new New York ballparks played a significant role in that decrease. The total number of seats available at Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium over the course of a single season is approximately 1.5 million fewer than at the former ballparks -- Shea Stadium and the old Yankee Stadium, which both seated about 55,000.

MLB set its high-water mark in 2007 with an overall attendance of 79,503,175.

This year's total is the sixth-highest in MLB history, 0.4 percent lower than 2009. The official figure released by MLB on Monday, a day after the end of the regular season, was 73,061,781.

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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