CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- During my tenure as president of Major League Baseball's American League (1994-2000), I encountered critics who claimed that baseball was doomed, near death. "Those people have gone away," Commissioner Bud Selig told me in a recent conversation about the state of the game. The reasons for their departure are compelling, as Selig freely predicts:
Revenues for MLB will easily top $8 billion in 2013; they reached $7.5 billion in 2012.
Regular season attendance will jump again in 2013, surpassing last season's count of 75 million -- and that milestone will surpass the combined attendance of the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.
Values of almost all of the 30 MLB franchises will continue to climb. The New York Yankees are valued at $1.85 billion, tied with the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL.
Fans from coast to coast can expect tight competition in 2013 because of real balance through revenue sharing, resulting in two-thirds of baseball teams still competing as late as Labor Day. And some fans can expect lower ticket prices, too.
The Philadelphia Phillies led the National League in attendance for 2012 (3.6 million) with the Yankees drawing 3.5 million in the American League. Nine clubs drew more than 3 million fans last season, while another 13 eclipsed 2.3 million.
One of Major League Baseball's principal assets for continued growth can be found in the minor leagues where 41 million fans witnessed regular season games in 2012, and a disproportionate number of the attendees were youngsters.
"We play a significant role in introducing the game to future generations," Pat O'Conner, president of Minor League Baseball, told me. "Most families can afford what we offer, and we offer a lot: reasonably priced tickets, special games and giveaways for kids, ballpark food and beverages, and exciting professional baseball. We entertain on and off the field."
He foresees another climb in attendance, perhaps by as much as a million. He also says most ticket prices will remain low and attractive to cash strapped families.