Yesterday, the Orioles played the first game that is closed to audience in MLB history. Given the unprecedented nature of the game, I thought that it's an appropriate time to revisit how the Orioles have fared in terms of attendance since their renaissance in 2012.
I have included average attendance for each Orioles home game from Baseball-Reference from 2011 to 2014.
There is a general trend that is detectable in all four seasons. In general, attendance spikes in summer during the months of June and July. Attendance in the later months of the season depends largely on how the team is performing. In 2012 and 2014, when the Orioles are contending and securing their playoff spot, September represents the month with the highest attendance. On the other hand, in 2011 and 2013, when the Orioles do not have a realistic chance at the postseason, September is a month of low attendance.
There is a very interesting dip in attendance in the month of August in 2012 when the Orioles were in contention. The main reason for the dip was a four game series against the White Sox, the O's opponent yesterday, at the end of August which averaged 12,000 fans. I vaguely remembered this as a story in the national media in 2012, but am unable to find any explanation for the low attendance in the series.
There is definitely some truth to the theory that attendance lags behind performance on the field. The Orioles had a higher attendance in 2013 than 2012 despite being less competitive. The increases in attendance in the later months of seasons where the Orioles were a legitimate contender give this theory more credibility.
So far this season, the Orioles have averaged 33,000 fans per game, significantly higher than any of the recent seasons in April. The O's are currently ninth in the league in terms of home attendance, just four seasons after ranking 26th in the league in 2011. The O's routinely had one of the highest attendances in the 1990s. The recent success of the O's under Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette has the O's trending in the right direction.