MWL 1982 Expansion: Attendance

The Midwest League’s 1982 format may be serving as a sort of pilot program the major leagues could consider in future years, should the big leagues opt for three divisions. The Midwest is the only Class A league not playing a split season, its three four-team divisions each crowning a champion at the end of the 144-game schedule, then adding a wild-card club–the team with the best record that did not win a divisional title–for a four-game championship playoff. This is the exact format suggested if the National League and American League go to three-division setups. The Midwest League set an attendance record in 1981 before adding four new franchises (Beloit, Danville, Madison, and Springfield) this spring, and the big leagues will be watching closely to see what effect the elimination of the split season has on attendance at the Class A level.

The Sporting News, July 5, 1982, page 47/
Courtesy of Paper of Record.

Attendance

Some evidence, for your consideration:

From 81 to 82

year   attend   tm  games
1981   602,793   8   136
1982 1,005,530  12   144

Cities

City                 1981     1982
Appleton             66,780   81,970  +
Beloit                        81,512
Burlington           62,127   59,292  -
Cedar Rapids         89,824  101,096  +
Clinton              67,940   89,352  +
Danville                      41,105
Quad Cities         134,142  157,960  +
Madison                      127,639
Springfield                  108,182
Waterloo             80,355   73,597  -
Wausau               58,116   40,077  -
Wisconsin Rapids     43,509   37,748  -

Too much noise to make much sense of this, but: The league’s attendance increase from 1981 to 1982 was mostly (not entirely) in the new cities. The returning cities, predictably, reported mixed results.