Toronto Blue Jays game attendance soars in 2022. Why that's good for their playoff push
Fans are returning to the Rogers Centre Friday to see the Toronto Blue Jays play in their first playoff game since 2020 – and there’s a key statistic they’ll be hoping makes a difference against the Seattle Mariners.
According to ESPN, the average attendance at Blue Jays games through the 2022 season rose 50.6 per cent compared to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic season of 2019. In 2022, the average attendance for a game was 32,763, compared to 21,606 in 2019.
This increase is the largest across Major League Baseball teams and it’s a stark contrast to more than a dozen teams that noticed attendance levels drop by between 10 and 24 per cent over the same time period.
The Blue Jays, Canada’s only MLB team, secured a wildcard spot in the upcoming American League playoffs after the Boston Red Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 last week.
According to a Blue Jays spokesperson, postseason ticket sales have been strong for the Jays. Last year, the Rogers Centre was at partial capacity to comply with physical distancing orders, with 15,000 fans per game increasing to 30,000 near the end of the season.
Now, without COVID-19 restrictions, almost 50,000 people can pack into the iconic stadium.
Tyson Shushkewich, co-editor of the Jays Journal fan site, told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday that fans are excited to see their team back in a playoff spot and have picked up steam.
“It's the electric atmosphere of the Rogers Centre,” Shushkewich said. “You saw (fans) kind of pick up towards the end of the season.”
Shushkewich says he has been a fan of the sport since he was 10 years old.
He has seen the Jays fan base go through changes in management and hard-lost years. He compared this year’s team and playoff run to the 2015 season when the Jays broke into the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
“This season, they've seen attendance go back up to about 2.7 million (in total), so about 100,000 less than the 2015 playoff run,” Shushkewich said. “All the fans wanted to do after two years of pandemic baseball was just to have a normal season, especially for Blue Jays fans who in 2021, were so close to the playoffs.”
Last year, the Blue Jays just missed a playoff spot during a season that saw the team playing only in the U.S. for some time due to COVID-19 border restrictions.
“This season, we saw an uptick in fans, because not only could you go to the games, and there weren't any constraints … (but) the Blue Jays had a really good team,” Shushkewich said.
As for what to expect from a full-capacity crowd at the Rogers Centre, Shushkewich described the fans as “emotional” who get “behind” the team.
“When calls don't go their way, they let you know the team's know it on the field,” he said. “It can get pretty intense in there.”
Game 1 of the best-of-three series starts at 4.07 p.m. EDT on Friday; Game 2 is on Saturday at 4.07 p.m. EDT; and, if a tie-breaker is required, Game 3 is slated for Sunday at 2.07 p.m. EDT.
With files from CTVNews.ca's Tara De Boer