Lou DePaoli, the Mets' man behind promotions such as free shirt Friday, concerts and fireworks night, is enjoying the best promotion of all: The Mets are in first place and attendance is on the rise.

In the team's first 56 home games, attendance is up 10.39 percent over last season, according to DePaoli, the Mets executive vice president and chief revenue officer. The Mets are averaging 30,253 fans -- sixth in the National League. They finished 21st of 30 teams last season with an average of 26,860.

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The Mets' attendance thus far, an industry source said, represents the sixth-largest increase in MLB behind the Royals, Mariners, Padres, Astros and White Sox.

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The Mets continue to focus on weekend attendance, where Saturday numbers, DePaoli said, are up 28.8 percent from last season to 37,769. "The weekends have been very strong all year," he said. "Those are up 18.19 percent. We have our best weekends of the year coming up with the Pirates, the Red Sox, the Yankees and the Nationals. We were already expecting very large crowds for all of those."

The Mets have had three sellouts this season.

Despite increased interest, this week the Mets dropped fees to all fans who buy tickets for remaining home games by Friday. "We never even gave a second thought of pulling back the no-fees promotion or some of the other family friendly things that we do," DePaoli said, "That's who we are. And those are the things you do to keep fans coming. Whether we're winning or losing, we would still have the same promotion . . . We're not changing anything, we're going to keep doing what we do because it works. It's just now it's working to a grander scale."

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DePaoli said there are "no projections" as to what the club expects to draw over 81 home games. "Last year for the first time we increased attendance, even though it was only .62 percent, still it was an increase for the first time [at Citi Field]," he said. "We're very happy that we're up 10 percent. We'll have to see what the remaining 25 games can do for us."