ST. LOUIS – Sonny Gray’s St. Louis debut drew the smallest attendance for a Cardinals night game in the history of Busch Stadium III, according to several reports.

That mark does not include games affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, but rather games that the Cardinals had an opportunity to pack a sold-out crowd.

Gray, the team’s biggest offseason addition, made his first Cardinals start as the team hosted the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday during the team’s first homestand of the 2024 season. The reported attendance from Tuesday was 31,972.

Tuesday’s reported attendance is the lowest for a Cardinals night game in nearly two decades at Busch Stadium and the fourth-lowest in stadium history, according to the St. Louis Business Journal and Belleville News-Democrat.

A sold-out crowd at Busch Stadium will usually pack 47,000 fans into the stadium. The Cardinals reached that in their first game. For each home game since then, according to team figures, attendance did not top 40,000.

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Photos shared to social media by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters of Tuesday’s night game and Wednesday’s day game show just how sparse the home crowd has looked recently at Busch Stadium. They certainly caught the attention of baseball fans, many arguing that 30,000 fans did not make it to Busch Stadium for either of the last two games.

In regards to that, one thing worth noting is that teams don’t typically define attendance as tickets scanned on gameday or people in seats. defines attendance as “Typically, tickets sold in home games.” A spokesperson for the Cardinals told FOX 2 last year in an email, “Attendance¬†displayed and announced at each game represents the number of tickets sold.”

With that in mind, there’s likely validity to fan arguments that the Cardinals have not drawn 30,000 people inside Busch Stadium for the last small handful of games.

To some extent, the drop in attendance seems to correlate with team results over the last several years. The Cardinals have won only two postseason series over the last decade (2014 and 2019 NLDS) and finished with one of their worst records in decades, 71-91, just last year. St. Louis is once again off to a bit of an inconsistent start this season, now 6-7 through the first two weeks.

Fans made their frustrations known during the April 4 home opener as an audible chorus of boos echoed Busch Stadium while the Cardinals introduced lead executive John Mozeliak.

Could attendance bounce back? Only time will tell. The Cardinals have topped more than 3 million in attendance in every year since the turn to the 21st century aside from one, excluding the two pandemic-altered baseball seasons. The Cardinals would need to average around 38,000 in attendance per game to comfortably reach that mark again.

The Cardinals head to the west coast again for road series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics before returning back home the following weekend.