Governor Scott Applauds Florida Spring Training Baseball
Total attendance tops 1.6 million for 2012 season
Florida Spring Training Baseball continues to be a hot spot for Baseball fans as more than 1.6 million fans attended the 233 games of the 2012 season, setting a new per game attendance record, with an average of 6,965 fans attending games during the month of March. In the 233 games played in 14 Florida locations, over the course of 33 days, a total of 1,622,957 fans passed through stadium turnstiles. Only three games were rained out in the 2012 Florida Grapefruit League season, with all three coming on Sunday, March 11.
“Florida’s great weather and sporting events like spring training continue to draw people to our state,” Governor Rick Scott said, “We are grateful to all of the visitors and businesses that made Spring Training a success and look forward to another exciting season of baseball.”
The total attendance figure was compiled, by the Florida Sports, a division of Enterprise Florida, Inc., from daily box scores and confirmed by each of the 15 teams in the Florida Grapefruit League. Only games played in Florida between Major League teams were included in the total.
The record-setting 2012 season reflected the all-time highest per game average attendance of 6,965 fans per game, topping the previous mark of 6,640 per game in 2010.
Among the highlights of the 2012 season was the opening of the new home of the Boston Red Sox, JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. With a larger seating capacity than the Red Sox previous spring training home, City of Palms Park, total attendance increased by more than 30,000 fans and added nearly 2,000 fans per game. The Red Sox totaled 151,417 fans in 16 games for an average of 9,464 per game.
The Detroit Tigers, playing their 76th spring training season in Lakeland, increased their total attendance for the fourth consecutive year with 134,899 attending 17 games at Joker Marchant Stadium for an average of 7,935 per game. The Tigers total attendance increased by more than 15,000 and the per game attendance increased by more than 900 per game. The Tigers and the City of Lakeland have the longest-standing relationship of any team playing in a spring training city than any other team in Major League Baseball.
By showing off their new home, Marlins Park in downtown Miami, for two games against the New York Yankees, the Miami Marlins saw a significant jump in attendance as nearly 60,000 fans watched the Marlins and Yankees on April 1 and 2. The Yankees then traveled north to meet the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, on April 3, and the two teams played before an record crowd of 7,644 in Digital Domain Park. It was the first game between the Yankees and Mets during the Florida Spring Training season since 1996.
A total of eight Florida Spring Training teams surpassed the 100,000 total attendance mark as the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies reached six figures. Three teams, the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies, each topped 150,000 total attendance.
Florida’s spring training tradition began in 1888 when the Washington Statesmen traveled to Jacksonville to work out in the “off season.” Since that time, the “off season” workouts have become an economic benefit to the state as Florida Spring Training Baseball provides the State of Florida a $753 million economic impact each year. The total was determined by an economic impact survey, compiled during the 2009 season, by Bonn Marketing Research Group of Tallahassee.
2012 Team-by-Team Florida Spring Training Attendance
ATLANTA BRAVES - Disney's Wide World of Sports, Lake Buena Vista
17 Games (one cancellation): 127,321 total attendance; 7,489 average per game
Largest Crowd: 10,755 vs. New York Yankees, Saturday, March 10
BALTIMORE ORIOLES - Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota
15 Games; 106,398 total attendance; 7,093 average per game
Largest Crowd: 8,686 vs. New York Yankees, Sunday, March 18
BOSTON RED SOX - JetBlue Park, Fort Myers
16 Games; 151,417 total attendance; 9,464 average per game
Largest Crowd: 10,002, vs. Washington Nationals, Monday, April 2
DETROIT TIGERS - Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland
17 Games; 134,899 total attendance; 7,935 average per game
Largest Crowd: 10,115 vs. New York Yankees, Saturday, March 24
HOUSTON ASTROS - Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee
14 Games (one cancellation); 56,379 total attendance; 4,027 average per game
Largest Crowd: 5,774 vs. New York Yankees, Saturday, March 31
MIAMI MARLINS - Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
16 Games (14 at Roger Dean Stadium, 2 at Marlins Park); 126,961 total attendance; 7,935 average per game
Largest Crowd: 32,005 vs. New York Yankees, Monday, April 2 at Marlins Park
MINNESOTA TWINS- Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers
16 Games; 117,503 total attendance; 7,344 average per game
Largest Crowd: 8,285 vs. Toronto Blue Jays, Tuesday, March 13
NEW YORK METS - Digital Domain Park, Port St. Lucie
15 Games; 80,377 total attendance; 5,358 average per game
Largest Crowd: 7,644 vs. New York Yankees, Tuesday, April 3 (All time high attendance)
NEW YORK YANKEES - Steinbrenner Field, Tampa
15 Games; 162,832 total attendance; 10,855 average per game
Largest Crowd: 11,048, vs. Boston Red Sox, Tuesday, March 13
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES - Bright House Field, Clearwater
16 Games; 153,493 total attendance; 9,593 average per game
Largest Crowd: 10,853, vs. Detroit Tigers, Monday, March 19
PITTSBURGH PIRATES - McKechnie Field, Bradenton
15 Games; 82,390 total attendance; 5,493 average per game
Largest Crowd: 6,595, vs. New York Yankees, Tuesday, March 6
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS - Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
13 Games (one cancellation); 85,857 total attendance; 6,604 average per game
Largest Crowd: 7,629, vs. Miami Marlins, Sunday, March 18
TAMPA BAY RAYS - Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte
16 Games; 87,916 total attendance; 5,495 average per game
Largest Crowd: 7,826, vs. Boston Red Sox, Sunday, March 18
TORONTO BLUE JAYS – Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin
16 Games; 76,008 total attendance; 4,751 per game average
Largest Crowd: 5,541, vs. Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, March 16
WASHGINTON NATIONALS - Space Coast Stadium, Viera
15 Games; 73,206 total attendance; 4,880 per game average
Largest Crowd: 7,246 vs. New York Yankees, Thursday, March 15
Florida Spring Training Total Attendance
233 Games (three cancellations); 1,622,957 total attendance; 6,965 per game
Following another successful spring training campaign, Orioles players and coaches have flown north for the regular season. Although the major league Orioles won’t play games in Sarasota again until 2013, the club will continue to maintain a year-round presence in the Suncoast community.
The Orioles’ 2012 Spring Training season in Sarasota concluded with a total of 106,398 in attendance in 15 home dates, an average of 7,093. The total is the second highest attendance in the 59-year history of the Orioles’ organization. The Orioles have drawn over 100,000 fans to Ed Smith Stadium in each of their three spring training seasons in Sarasota.
The Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCVB) reported a significant increase in requests for destination information and visitation from the Mid-Atlantic region, largely due to the continued relationship between Sarasota County and the Baltimore Orioles. Over the last three years, inquiries from the Mid-Atlantic region grew 2.2% in 2009, 6.4% in 2010, and 7.3% for 2011 during the January through March time period. The visitor intercept statistics for the same time period show a 44% increase in visitation from 2009 to 2010 and a 6.9% increase from 2010 to 2011.
In addition, the Orioles saw an approximate 40% increase in tickets distributed to season plan holders in Baltimore who traveled to Sarasota for spring training games this spring.
Through their community outreach initiative, OriolesREACH, the Orioles hosted numerous community events on game days at Ed Smith Stadium, including a celebration of Siesta Beach’s naming as the No. 1 beach in the United States, a food collection drive and fundraiser to benefit All Faiths Food Bank, and recognition of our armed forces on Military Appreciation Day.
Several game day events focused on the area’s youth, including Youth Baseball Day, featuring a parade of several hundred youth baseball players with their coaches from leagues throughout the county; Kids Run the Bases Day; and Big League Reader day, a partnership with Sarasota County Libraries that rewarded over one hundred area youth with a game ticket for reading at least three books in a month. In addition, the OriolesREACH Game Day Experience provided free game attendance for almost 600 disadvantaged children and developmentally challenged adults.
The Orioles also partnered with the Pittsburgh Pirates to provide financial support for a new Miracle League Field at Longwood Park in Sarasota. The Miracle League gives children and adults with special needs the opportunity to play baseball. Additional funds were raised for the Miracle League through the Second Annual Birdland Golf Classic, charity golf outing attended by Orioles players and coaches at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club in February.
“The Orioles’ presence in Sarasota is year-round, and we plan to build on the activities and relationships we’ve begun in our first 30 months in Sarasota County,” said Laura Williams, the Orioles’ Director of Florida Operations. “We were once again overwhelmed with the tremendous support from local fans and out-of-town visitors during spring training, and we’re excited about the prospects for outreach in the community for the rest of 2012.”
The Orioles have already started their Sarasota “off-season” community activities, with a clinic for 50 pre-selected local youth planned for this Saturday, April 7, at Ed Smith Stadium. Boys and girls will receive instruction in throwing, hitting, fielding and baserunning from Orioles minor league players and instructors. On April 20, the club will once again support Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast through sponsorship of their annual fundraiser, Déjà Vu.
Major League Baseball has announced that Roger Dean Stadium will be one of four venues to host the newly created qualification rounds for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. The event is scheduled for five days beginning September 19th and runs through the 23rd. Israel , France , South Africa and Spain will compete for the chance to play in the 2013 World Baseball Classic in March.
For the first time ever, a qualifying round will be held to determine the final set of teams that will compete in the main tournament. 16 teams will compete in the qualification rounds at four different venues world wide. Roger Dean Stadium, along with Regensburg , Germany , Panama City , Panama and New Taipei City , Taipei will be the sites for the upcoming qualifiers. The four winners of the distinctive qualifiers will advance to the main tournament that will take place during Spring Training in 2013.
“This is a prestigious honor that Roger Dean Stadium has been chosen to hold a qualifying round,” said Roger Dean Stadium General Manager Mike Bauer. “We are very excited to host this premiere event and look forward to working with Major League Baseball and the four international teams. This is a premiere event for the Town of Jupiter and Palm Beach County .”
The four countries invited to the qualifying round will arrive a few days before the start of the tournament and will participate in team practices on Roger Dean Stadium’s back fields. The event will be a double-elimination tournament, which will take five days to complete.
Six-game tournament ticket packs and group plans will go on sale July 30th. Six-game tournament ticket packs will be $48, while group rates start at $8. Individual tickets will go on sale Monday, August 13th at 10 a.m. Individual tickets will be $10 for adults, $5 for children (12 and under).
Additional information can also be found at www.RogerDeanStadium.com.
The Swings for Sox golf tournament is officially SOLD OUT, but there are still a limited number of “Party in the Park” passes remaining for non-golfers! Come out and join us, Friday, September 28, for a fun afternoon at JetBlue Park for lunch on the Green Monster, batting practice on the field, and an amazing silent auction.
Party in the Park begins at 1:00 p.m. and features lunch provided by Rib City, Batting Practice on the field at JetBlue Park, Self-Guides Tours, Raffle prizes and a Silent Auction featuring: passes to the 2013 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, an opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at a 2013 Red Sox Spring Training Game, autographed memorabilia and more.
Tickets are $75 for the Party in the Park. For more information call (239) 226-4783 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Florida Sports Foundation and Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced today that Lee County has been approved for certification under the Spring Training Baseball Franchise Program, which provides state matching funds to assist local governments that own or operate stadiums with renovation or construction of their spring training facility. With this approval, Lee County is eligible to receive a maximum of $15 million over 30 years for renovation of the Minnesota Twins Spring Training home, the Lee County Sports Complex and Hammond Stadium.
“Lee County’s application met all of the goals and objectives defined by the Spring Training Franchise Program,” said Florida Sports Foundation President John Webb. “The State of Florida strives to work hand-in-hand with the communities hosting Spring Training Baseball to retain the teams which provide an economic boost to the State. With the long-term lease signed by the Twins with Lee County, we look forward to seeing Twins in an improved facility in Lee County for years to come.”
Lee County’s application was received and evaluated by the Florida Sports Foundation before approval by DEO. The criteria for receiving the certification included the length of time that the existing franchise (Minnesota Twins) has been located in the state, the length of time the facility has been used by one or more spring training franchises, the duration of the future-use agreement with the retained spring training franchise and the amount of the local match.
“This partnership is one example of Florida’s unified statewide economic vision paying dividends for a community like Lee County,” said DEO Executive Director Hunt Deutsch. “I am thrilled to see a potential increased economic impact of $15 million extra dollars infused into the region, which will lead to growth and investment for years to come.”
As part of this process, the Twins signed a 30-year agreement with Lee County which extends their lease through 2042. Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers has been the Spring Training home for the Twins since 1991. The team has held its Spring Training in Florida since 1936, as the Washington Senators, based in Orlando from 1936-42 and 1946-90 before moving to Lee County.
“In these tough economic times we appreciate this financial assistance from the State,” said Karen B. Hawes, County Manager of Lee County. “This funding will provide jobs in our community and provide the renovations needed to improve the current facility for the Minnesota Twins.”
Spring training is a beloved Florida tradition that generates significant economic impact. For more than 100 years, baseball teams have come to Florida for their spring training, During the 2012 Florida Spring Training season, 1.6 million fans watched the 15 teams comprising Florida's Grapefruit League. The total set a record for per game average with 6,965 fans per game, surpassing the previous per game average high of 6,640, set during the 2010 season.