Baseball's growing popularity in recent years can be attributed to many factors, including such dramatic innovations as the Wild Card and Interleague Play, increased competitive balance because of the significant economic changes that have taken place in the sport over the last decade and the construction of fan-friendly ballparks in many Major League cities.
Having more teams in contention later in the season is another draw, and for the third straight year, nearly two-thirds of MLB's 30 teams were in contention as late as Labor Day.
Some of those contenders have already set attendance records:
The New York Yankees set an American League record by drawing 4.26 million fans. The Yankees have drawn more than 4 million fans each of the the last three seasons, equaling the feat achieved by the Toronto Blue Jays from 1991-93.
The Chicago Cubs set a single-season record at Wrigley Field, breaking the previous record of 3,170,184, set in 2004 in their 80th home game. In addition to establishing a Wrigley Field record, the 3,211,098 is the largest single-season attendance mark for any franchise or venue in the history of the city of Chicago. The Cubs finished their home schedule with a record 3.25 million.
"This is an incredibly proud time for the Chicago Cubs organization and our fans, the greatest in all of baseball," said Cubs president John McDonough. "The Cubs are eternally grateful and thankful for the fans' remarkable support for this franchise, and our goal remains to properly reward their support and unwavering passion."
The Cubs also set a club record by reaching 3 million fans at Wrigley Field faster than any other season in franchise history, as the makeup-game crowd of 40,358 vs. the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 10 brought the Cubs and Wrigley Field beyond the 3 million mark in the club's 75th home game of 2007, surpassing the previous record of 77 in 2004 and 2006. The Cubs have now surpassed 3 million in home attendance in each of the last four seasons.
The St. Louis Cardinals set a single-season attendance record with 3,551,778, surpassing their previous high of 3,538,948, set in 2005, their final season at old Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals sold out all 81 home games this season, averaging close to 44,000 per game. The 2007 season marks the 11th time the Cardinals have surpassed the 3 million mark in season attendance. They have drawn more than 3 million fans in four consecutive seasons (2004-07) and in nine of their past 10.
The Detroit Tigers will pass the franchise single-season attendance record of 2,704,794, set in 1984.
The Milwaukee Brewers have already broken the club's all-time single-season attendance mark of 2,811,041, set in 2001.
Arizona (attendance up more than 250,000), Cleveland (up approximately 278,000), Kansas City (150,000), San Diego (140,000), Colorado (80,000), the New York Mets (up 110,000), Philadelphia (150,000), Florida (145,000), Atlanta (190,000) and Seattle (30,000) are among the other teams that have already surpassed last year's home attendance marks.