MLB sets new attendance mark

MLB sets new attendance mark

With so many playoff races going down to the wire, more fans passed through Major League Baseball ballpark turnstiles this season than ever before.

The single-season attendance record was broken for the third consecutive season on Saturday as fans walked into the Metrodome to watch the American League Central game between the hometown Minnesota Twins and the visiting Chicago White Sox.

Someone at the game became the 74,926,175th fan to attend a MLB game in 2006, breaking the record set last season.

Including Sunday's regular-season finales, a total of 76,043,902 fans attended Major League games, representing a 1.5 percent increase over the previous record.

"Major League Baseball is more popular today than it has ever been in its long history," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Setting a new attendance record for the third consecutive year is a remarkable accomplishment. The record signifies the great passion that fans all over the country have for our great game."

Seven clubs topped the three million mark; 14 teams drew at least 2.5 million; and 25 of the 30 MLB teams drew more than two million. All teams surpassed 1 million.

The New York Yankees led the way, cracking the 4 million mark for the second consecutive season. The AL East champions drew more than 51,000 to each of their last 44 home games and 57 of their last 58.

The Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays (1991-93) and Colorado Rockies (1993) are the only clubs ever to surpass four million in total attendance in one season.

On Friday, Boston became the first MLB team to set a home attendance record in seven consecutive seasons. Friday's game made it 2,858,346 fans at Fenway Park in 2006 with two games remaining, up from 2,847,888 last year.

Two of the two-team cities had banner attendance seasons in '06 and the third, the San Francisco Bay area, drew more than 5 million. The Giants cracked the 3 million mark while the Oakland Athletics finished at 1,976,625, just missing what would have been a sixth straight season of at least 2 million.

The big story was the Big Apple.

The NL East champion Mets drew more than 3.4 million, giving New York a grand total of more than 7.5 million fans in 162 dates. The game also was extremely popular in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers played in front of a franchise-record 3,758,421 fans and, with two home dates remaining as of midday Saturday, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had drawn 3,318,745.

Chicago also was a baseball kind of town in '06 as the White Sox just missed the 3 million mark, ending their first season since 1918 as World Series champions with 2,957,414 in total attendance. The cross-town rival Cubs drew more than 3 million for the third consecutive season.

The three-year streak of broken attendance records is the longest since the mark was shattered in five consecutive seasons from 1985 through 1989.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.