The Giants’ World Series championship team of 1954 outdrew the Dodgers at home by 134,000. That moment of one-upmanship over their rivals faded quickly. The Dodgers went on to lead the Giants in home attendance from 1955 through 1999. Brooklyn, in fact, had proven to the most popular team by the time the two clubs headed west in 1958. The Dodgers outdrew the Giants 16 of the last 19 years on the East Coast. Before then, Giants’ fans dominated, as New York led the Brooklyn in attendance in 43 of 46 years from 1893 through 1938. Brooklyn was the first to top one million in attendance, drawing 1,097,329 in 1930. New York cracked the one million mark for the first time in 1945.
The battle of the gate was never a fair fight on the West Coast through 1999. In the first two years, the Giants played at Seals Stadium with a capacity of about 23,000, while the Dodgers played in the 90,000-plus seat Memorial Coliseum. The much-maligned Candlestick Park, which opened in 1960, was no match for Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962. The Giants had a 10-year streak from 1968 to 1977 where they drew above one million just one year. The rock-bottom season was 1974, when only 519,987 showed up. The Dodgers had their worst Los Angeles attendance year, drawing just 1.5 million in 1968, largely due to the dreary post-Koufax era.
The opening of then-Pacific Bell Park in 2000 made it a whole new ballgame. For the first time since 1954, the Giants drew more fans than the Dodgers with their first-ever three-million plus total. The Giants went on to top the Dodgers at the gate for the next three years. The Dodgers regained the attendance mantle with their division-winning team of 2004, and maintained their attendance lead through the 2010 season. Giants’ fans, lifted by the 2010 title, grabbed back the attendance advantage in 2011 and 2012. The 2011 season, one of the most chaotic in the storied Dodgers franchise because of the financial and ownership uncertainty that discouraged past loyal fans, dropped Dodger Stadium attendance below three million for the first time since the post-strike year of 1995.
Fans’ confidence in the new ownership, the team’s incredible surge, and improvements to Dodger Stadium have boosted attendance to a league-leading total averaging above 45,000 in 2013. The Giants, with a long streak of sellouts, can’t do much to compete with that number, since their park holds just above 41,000.