Visualizing MLB Stadium Capacity and Scheduled Opening Day Attendance for the 2021 Season

On March 2nd, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas lifted the state’s mask mandate, and removed all capacity restrictions on restaurants and businesses. Precisely a week later, the Texas Rangers announced that they would be taking full advantage of the Governor’s new rules, and they would be utilizing the entire 40,518 person capacity at Globe Life Field to open their season.

One of my favorite sports websites, The Athletic, covered the Ranger’s situation in a bit more detail earlier this week, comparing their laissez-faire attendance policy to what other MLB teams around the country have chosen to open the year with - which seems to be about one-quarter capacity on average.

While I found The Athletic’s data to be super helpful for getting a lay of the land, I couldn’t help but feel like it needed a little visual TLC… So I set out to build a graphic that might relate stadium capacity and utilization a bit more intuitively than a plain table of text!

After playing around with different visualization options, and almost just rolling with a simple chart of % Capacity Scheduled across teams and divisions, I decided to pivot to a “bullet chart” style graphic, with annotations for what share of total stadium capacity the scheduled Opening Day attendance represents. Take a peek below at the final product!

Opening Day 2021 Scheduled Attendance vs Stadium Capacity