Major League ballparks offer a lot more than baseball these days. For example:

Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays can feed real stingrays in a giant tank at Tropicana Field.  At Chase Field in Phoenix, fans with special tickets can lounge in a swimming pool while watching the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Or, you can ride a 50 foot Ferris wheel and carousel at Comerica Park, where the Detroit Tigers play.

In fact, in the past two decades, experts say nearly every Major League baseball team has added new attractions that make a day at the ballpark feel like a trip to an amusement park. Why?

Wayne McDonnell is a professor of sports management at New York University. He says baseball attendance has dropped 8 percent in the past three seasons.  So, teams are looking for creative new ways to attract more “casual” fans – the ones who don’t care about the game, they’re just looking for something fun to do! And McDonnell says it takes more than hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks to attract those “casual” fans.  That’s why many new ballparks feature attractions designed to encourage what he calls the “third-inning stroll.”

The thinking is that baseball is such a slow moving game, that fans have plenty of time to leave their seats and explore the ballpark for an inning – without missing much of the game. And while you explore, teams hope you’ll stop to spend money somewhere, whether it’s getting food, buying new clothes, taking a dip in the pool, or riding a Ferris wheel in the outfield.