The Independent Leagues don't get the same type of press as MLB or MiLB, but it still can draw thousands of fans to each game, while at the same time putting a special project on the field.
The Can-Am League, the lesser-known of the "Big 4", has six teams and averages 1,854 per game. Playing the 2013 season with only five teams compared to 6 in 2012, they are averaging more fans than in 2011, but will more than likely come up short in matching last year's numbers.
The Atlantic League, American Association, and Frontier League are the more established and well-known leagues if you can say that. The Can-Am League has been in existence since 2004, however, the aforementioned three leagues have a stronger reputation for fostering and establishing talent. The Atlantic League can lay claim that over 600 of their players have gone on and signed a professional contract with Major League Baseball.
Atlantic League players are arguably the most talented of the bunch, and also play the longest and most comparable schedule to a MLB organization (140). Over the past three years the Atlantic League is made up of between 8-10 teams and averages over 4,000 per game per team. With the addition of the Sugar Land Skeeters, one of the most popular teams in all of baseball, they nearly topped 2.4 million through the turnstiles in 2012.
The American Association definitely gives the Atlantic League its competition. The ATL has been around longer than anyone (1998), but the American Association consists of five-to-seven more teams per year, resulting in competing attendance numbers. Unfortunately, in 2013 they are averaging nearly 200 less per game than last year, yet are pulling in roughly 177 more fans per game than in 2011 with one less team.
The Indy's don't get the recognition they deserve, but with solid players, and a solid product, it continues to bring in the fans.
According to David Kronheim's Attendance Analysis, Independent Baseball topped the 7,000,000 mark in 2012, up 297,157 (4.4%). The numbers don't appear to be on a record setting pace this year, regardless, the Indy game is alive and well challenging the norm.
*Attendance numbers courtesy; American Association, Atlantic League, Can-Am League, Frontier League*
Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.