The Milwaukee Brewers emerged from their brief rebuild to become surprising contenders in 2017, winning 86 games and staying in the playoff race until the second-to-last day of the season. Despite limited expectations coming into the year, the upstart Milwaukee Nine didn’t take long to capture the hearts and minds of the local faithful, as reflected in some key figures that have come out in the days following the completion of the regular season.
This year the Brewers finished with a total paid attendance of 2,558,722 fans, which ranked 10th in the MLB. That translated to an average of 31,589 paid tickets for each of their 81 home games (attendance from the transplanted series with Miami does not count towards this figure). The team’s success on the field, always excellent giveaway schedule, and recent investments in ballpark improvements like the new concessions experience, helped drive a ticket sales increase of more than 240,000 over 2016, or greater than 3,000 more tickets sold per game.
When taking a look at ticket sales on a per capita basis, Milwaukee comes out looking even better. According to Cincinnati.com, the Brewers ranked #1 in all of Major League Baseball in terms of ticket sales when compared to market size among the 30 MLB franchises. Milwaukee’s metropolitan area of 1.6 mil people is among the smallest in the major leagues, but on any given day during the season 19.8 people out of 1,000 were in attendance at Miller Park to see the Brewers play. That ranks ahead of San Francisco (17.5 people per 1,000), St. Louis (15.1), Kansas City (13.1), and Colorado (12.8) rounding out the top-5. The median teams in the league were Seattle and the Dodgers at 7.0 people per 1,000, and the New York Mets ranked last in the league with just 3.1 people in attendance at a given game per every 1,000.
The Brewers not only reaped benefits at the gate this season, but in terms of television viewership as well. Per Maury Brown of Forbes, the Brewers were one of 7 MLB teams to experience double-digit increases in terms of prime time viewership this season. Milwaukee’s prime time ratings were up 44% in 2017, trailing only the Yankees and Braves, who both enjoyed 56% prime time ratings increases. The Brewers air their games locally on Fox Sports Wisconsin, but they have one of the lowest television revenue contracts among all MLB franchises.
According to this 2016 data from Fangraphs, Milwaukee receives just $24 mil in television revenue under their current agreement, which at the time the data was gathered was the 5th-lowest total in baseball. Their present deal runs through 2019, at which time they’ll be able to negotiate a new contract. With the Brewers looking like they are on the upswing as a franchise, the front office may be able to look forward to a new infusion of cash when they are able to renegotiate their TV deal in another two years. Another option would be for the org to invest in their own television network, which has worked to the advantage of teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mariners in recent years.
This all goes to show that at the core, Milwaukee is truly a great baseball town that is quick to rally around their local nine when there is reason to be excited. If the franchise can continue forward at the trajectory that we are all hoping for, then it won’t be long until the hottest ticket in town is a seat at Miller Park.