Prospect League Shatters Attendance Records

MAHOMET, Ill. – The Prospect League carries significant momentum into the 2023 offseason powered by new total attendance records set during the summer. Over 575K fans attended games during the 2023 season, setting new overall and average attendance marks. The figure marked the largest year-to-year increase in league history and was best among all summer collegiate leagues this season.

“The attendance surge this season proved that fans seek the quality baseball, family-friendly entertainment, and fun atmosphere provided by the Prospect League,” said first-year Commissioner David Brauer. 

Cape Catfish celebrate after improving their record to 12-0

The Prospect League saw growth across multiple areas in 2023 that resulted in attaining several new attendance standards:

New Overall Attendance Record: The Prospect League’s 17 teams drew a record 575,294 fans during the 2023 season, the first time the Prospect League eclipsed the half-million mark for attendance. The Clinton LumberKings led the league in total attendance for the third consecutive season with 80,904 fans, the 13th-highest figure in all of summer collegiate baseball.

Highest Total Attendance Percentage Growth in Summer Collegiate Baseball: The Prospect League saw an increase of more than 23% in total attendance this season compared to 2022. That jump was the largest in all of summer collegiate baseball, besting the West Coast (15%), Northwoods (12%), and Appalachian Leagues (10%). The Prospect League also recorded the fourth-highest total attendance in summer collegiate baseball, finishing ahead of the Cape Cod, Coastal Plains, and Appalachian Leagues.

Largest Year-to-Year Growth in League History: 109,347 more fans attended Prospect League games in 2023 than during the 2022 campaign. The increase marked the largest in league history and boosted per game average attendance from 1,041 to 1,234 in 2023. The Springfield Lucky Horseshoes enjoyed the league’s largest team increase with 10,645 more fans this season.

Strong Inaugural Attendance in Jackson & Thrillville: New in 2023, the Thrillville Thrillbillies and Jackson Rockabillys each helped key the Prospect League’s attendance growth. The Thrillbillies, based in Marion, Ill., drew 63,070 during their inaugural season, the second-highest total in the Prospect League and the 18th most in summer collegiate baseball. The Rockabillys, in Jackson, Tenn., drew 46,949 fans, fifth most in the Prospect League and 38th overall in summer collegiate baseball.

10 Teams Increased Average Attendance: Ten of the Prospect League’s 15 returning teams recorded average attendance increases over the previous season during 2023. The Alton (Ill.) River Dragons, Burlington (Iowa) Bees, Cape (Cape Girardeau, Mo.) Catfish, Champion City (Springfield, Ohio) Kings, Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings, Danville (Ill.) Dans, Illinois Valley (Peru, Ill.) Pistol Shrimp, Normal (Ill.), CornBelters, O’Fallon (Mo.) Hoots, Springfield (Ill.) Lucky HorseShoes all achieved higher per game figures this summer. Both Cape and Illinois Valley saw record jumps in total and average attendance during their fourth Prospect League season.

Prospect League’s First Half-Millionth Fan: The Prospect League recognized its initial half-millionth fan this season. Tracey Glenn from Cape Girardeau, Mo., attended the Cape Catfish game on the night that the league topped 500,000 total fans. To celebrate the milestone, Glenn received a prize pack including a special jersey. She and her husband Jeff were among the first to buy season tickets in 2019, the inaugural season for the Catfish and they’ve been to almost every home game over the first four Catfish seasons.

“We had a tremendous summer and the fans really came out and supported the team,” said Cape Catfish President Glenn Campbell. “This group of kids really enjoyed playing the game of baseball and the fans could tell. That’s why you saw such a spike in attendance. We had a good club, we added some fun things between innings and the overall atmosphere was electric night in and night out.”

The Prospect League looks forward to continued growth in the future thanks to its dedicated fans who helped the league achieve attendance marks in 2023 and an increasing support of summer collegiate baseball on the national level. 

“Smashing all-time overall and average attendance records and the significant growth in those figures illustrate an appetite for our product among avid and casual fans alike. We are confident this momentum will carry forward as the League continues to give fans more in 2024,” said Brauer.