Phillies, Nationals already seeing Bryce Harper's impact on attendance


Attendance has been a big topic around baseball this week with two full months and about 35 percent of the regular season in the books.

Around the league, there are fewer butts in seats, which is understandable given how many teams are blatantly uninterested in winning in 2019.

That has not been the case for the Phillies. Attendance at Citizens Bank Park is up from 27,318 fans per game last season to 35,396 per game this season. The Phillies have gone from 17th to sixth in average attendance.

CBP was 63.4 percent filled last season. It has been 82.2 percent filled this season. It's the biggest increase in the majors from 2018 to 2019.

It is not unexpected. Phillies fans were waiting for the team to load up with win-now moves and it did. The four biggest additions — Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen — could all be All-Stars this season. Harper is heating up, Segura has been over .300 all but one day all season, Realmuto has been a top-three catcher and McCutchen has been one of the most productive leadoff men in the majors.

Harper, obviously, is the biggest draw. The Phillies would have seen an attendance uptick without him, but his impact on drawing attention and bringing fans to the yard is undeniable.

It's also been apparent in D.C., where many fewer fans are going to games.

The Nationals averaged 31,620 fans last season. They're at 27,628 this season, a drop-off of almost 4,000 fans per game. Last season, the average ticket price at Nationals Park was $42. This excludes parking fees for the fans who opt against taking the Metro. Believe me, those parking charges at Nationals Park are no joke. Any lot around the stadium is between $40-50, even for reporters who cover the Nats!

Without considering parking, this is about $168,000 per game the Nats are losing from last year to this year, based on that average ticket price. Even for a team that spent nearly $200 million in free agency. 

Harper is not the only reason why Phillies attendance has increased or Nationals attendance has decreased, but he's among the primary factors.

The Dodgers, who host the Phillies this weekend, again lead the league in attendance, as they have every year since 2012 when the Phillies led with 44,021 fans per game.

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