Using hierarchical linear analysis to examine attendance determinants in Major League Baseball
Although ticket sales revenues have been a major source of income in professional sports, Major League Baseball (MLB) has shown a steady decline in attendance over the past decade. Thus, it is necessary to investigate which attendance determinants have significantly affected the recent declining number of MLB spectators. Considering characteristics of the attendance data for multiple seasons, teams and games, a three-level Hierarchical Linear Model (HLM) was used to investigate the relationship between attendance determinants and the number of spectators across MLB seasons. Among the 13 game-level and 12 season-level attendance determinants adopted in this study, 12 game-level (e.g.visiting team’s quality, championships, rivalry game) and five season-level (e.g.home teams’ payroll, stadium capacity, ticket price) variables significantly affected MLB game attendance (p<0.05). The results revealed additional game-level determinants as significant variables, verifying how important it is to apply appropriate analytical methods depending on the data structure.