Astrodome Attendance Below League Average

By Paul Geisler

This article was published in the 2014 The National Pastime.

Despite the phenomenal engineering feat and the novelty of the stadium, attendance at the Astrodome ranked significantly lower than the average attendance in the National League during the Dome’s life, with a few notable exceptions.1

The Dome opened with strong attendance numbers in the inaugural season of 1965, with 2,151,470—158.4% of the league average. Once the honeymoon was over, totals declined each of next three seasons, yet remained above league average through 1969.

Ten years in, 1975 attracted the lowest number of fans in the Dome’s 35-year tenure with an attendance of 858,002—less than 40% of the inaugural year, and only 62% of the league average for that year. They failed to reach the one million mark again the very next season with only 886,146.

Attendance numbers fell below the league average in 23 of the 35 years, including the 16-year stretch from 1982 through 1997.

Astrodome attendance surpassed the opening year total only three times: in 1980 (when the team won 93 games and finished first in their division) and in the final two years in the Dome—1998–99—when attendance bettered the league average. The Astros reached the two million mark two other times, 1993 and 1997.

Across the full 35-year term, Dome attendance ranks significantly lower than the league average, at the 96% level. A two-sample t-test, assuming unequal variances, produces a “p” value of 0.04. Excluding the high attendance total of the opening year, the level raises to the 98% level, with a “p” value of 0.02.

PAUL GEISLER JR. grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and has been a Lutheran pastor for over 35 years. He lives in Lake Jackson, Texas, with his wife Susan and their three children: Sarah, Brydon, and Johanna. He loves anything baseball — playing, watching, coaching, researching, and writing.

 


Table: Astros home attendance, 1965-99

Year Astrodome Total League Average
1965 2151470 1358114
1966 1872108 1501547
1967 1348303 1297143
1968 1312887 1178536
1969 1442995 1257912
1970 1253444 1388517
1971 1261589 1443738
1972 1469247 1294144
1973 1394004 1389610
1974 1090728 1414860
1975 858002 1383374
1976 886146 1388377
1977 1109560 1589186
1978 1126145 1675577
1979 1900312 1764868
1980 2278217 1760340
1981 1321282 1039866
1982 1558555 1792285
1983 1351962 1795774
1984 1229862 1731786
1985 1184314 1857680
1986 1734276 1861123
1987 1909902 2061180
1988 1933505 2041606
1989 1834908 2110320
1990 1310927 2040959
1991 1196152 2058014
1992 1211412 2009261
1993 2084618 2637470
1994 1561136 1843416
1995 1363801 1793589
1996 1975888 2169949
1997 2046781 2277526
1998 2458451 2401674
1999 2706017 2380436