It only took a record-breaking winning streak and a national holiday, but the Cleveland Indians are no longer dead last in average attendance in 2016.
Last night's sellout crowd of 34,163 fans brought the average attendance in 2016 up to 17,142, according to ESPN. That narrowly puts the Tribe above the 34-48 Tampa Bay Rays, who are 13 games back in the American League East and averaging 16,826 fans per game. The next closest for the Indians to shoot for would be the Oakland Athletics, who are 36-47, 15 games back in the American League West, and averaging 19,164 fans per game.
The situation was perfect for a 4th of July sellout -- there were fireworks, there was 'Murica, the Indians were coming off of a great road trip, and they were preparing to face the Detroit Tigers, a team that they have absolutely owned in 2016. I don't mean "owned" in the sense of a l337 hacker on NCIS owning a mainframe database that requires dual hacking to defend, I mean it in the sense that the Indians are now 10-0 against their division rivals. They might as well buy a majority stake in the Tigers and make it official at this point.
Cleveland has responded to the Indians success with a great crowd:
Even in the midst of a two-and-a-half hour rain delay, a huge amount of fans stuck around for last's night game, and they were treated to fireworks off the bat of Mike Napoli. Last night's win over Detroit also means the Indians have won 12-straight games at Progressive Field, the best streak in the American League since the Indians won 14-straight games at home in 2011.
Last season, the Indians finished 29th overall at 17,806 fans per game, and that was a season of disappointments and missed opportunities. It would be really surprising to see the average attendance not surge if the Indians are still in the playoff hunt weeks after the All-Star break
As someone who lives five hours away from Progressive Field and watches games almost exclusively on TV, games are much more exciting when there is crowd noise as the backdrop, instead of the dull hum of a vending machine just out of camera range. Thanks for buying tickets, Cleveland.