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.
Some evidence, for your consideration:
From 81 to 82
year attend tm games 1981 602,793 8 136 1982 1,005,530 12 144
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.