Attendance is the name of the game and in the last few seasons of the MLB the Cleveland Guardians and the Cincinnati Red have both placed in the bottom half of the league for attendance. In the 2017 and 2019 seasons both Ohio teams have not placed higher than 19th in overall attendance out of 30 team in Major League Baseball.
In 2017 a year after the Cleveland Baseball Team made it all the way to the World Series, they still placed in the bottom 10 of attendance. This season also saw the team win a record breaking 22 game winning streak. A streak that the MLB has not seen since 1916. A regular season that has seen this streak in over 100 years. And yet the team still placed in the lower half the league. They placed 22nd in attendance. Out of 30. Their total attendance for that season was 2,048,138. The average capacity of games was 62% full for a team that was a record breaker. Below is a graph of some of the other bottom teams. A lot of these other teams were not competing for a championship like Cleveland
Most of those teams placed in their division that season in last place, but not Cleveland, they were in first place in the division and first place in the American League.
In 2019 Cleveland was a mediocre team. In that season they did not make it to the playoffs and finished with a record of 93-69. Not bad but not great and in this season the team still ranked in the 20s of attendance placing at 21st attendance. This makes more sense for a team to be not great and have that reflect in the attendance. The overall capacity percentage wise was 60% full. Like the the 2017 season.
One of the other constants that is noticed is the the fact that the other MLB team in Ohio is also in the bottom half of attendance all the years. Unlike Cleveland the Reds have not been competitive. So, it makes sense why they are low. But having Cleveland be in the bottom raises a question. Is there a market for professional baseball in the state of Ohio?
It is a difficult question to answer as there is many factors to point out about low attendance in Ohio for both MLB teams. A factor is the weather. The MLB season begins in April and normally in Ohio the weather will be bad for the first month and a half of the season. Just look at all the rainouts the Guardians have had in the first month of this 2022 season. The season also goes until October and if the team is not great no one will want to sit out in the cold for a baseball game when the team is bad.
Another factor for the Reds being as low as they are the fact that the team has not been competitive in a long time. And for the Guardians there is a question of ownership commitment. The Guardians are a cheap organization and have one of the lowest pay rolls in the game as well as the Reds.
Fans do not seem to not want to support a team that is not spending well with the weather.
However, 20 years ago the then Indians had a record breaking sell out streak of 455 games. So, fans did use to support the team on a crazy level. Just not in the recent years.