Baseball ticket sales mirror consumer confidence

Why 2012 looks like a winning year for Canada.

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(Photo: Chris Young/CP)

Want to know how the economy’s doing? Grab a box of Cracker Jack and take a look around a baseball stadium. It turns out the number of people who buy tickets to watch Major League Baseball games in a season parallels consumer confidence. Analysts at ConvergEX Group, a New York–based technology and software products firm, arrived at this conclusion after they looked at attendance figures for games since 2007 and compared them to economic trends and stock indexes. They believe the comparison works well because ball game attendees tend to be middle- to upper-middle-class fans.

Hopefully the 2012 baseball season will be no exception to this trend. Bud Selig, the MLB commissioner, predicted that total attendance will increase by between 3% and 5% this year. That means the economy could be in for an uptick if the ConvergEX theory is correct.

Economists appear to believe it is. In his most recent outlook, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney hinted that Canada’s recovery is improving more quickly than expected, and higher interest rates may be on their way soon. As well, several consumer-confidence studies published in March reported improved confidence numbers—about 25% of Canadians believe they will be better off financially a year from now.

Looking at the Toronto Blue Jays this season, the team has seen the highest attendance tally for its first three home games since 1994—the year after the Jays won their second World Series (not counting years with weekend games, because they always draw larger crowds).

With any luck, both Canadian-investor and sports-fan confidence will continue to rise with each dinger Jose Bautista hits into the stands this year.

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