Whether you agree the county commission made a wise decision when the board decided to keep Boston Red Sox Spring Training in Lee County or argue that the "bed tax" money used to fund the $77.8 million facility on Fenway South Drive in Fort Myers could have been better spent, the economic impact of baseball on the state's economy is quantifiable.
According to a prepared statement released Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott's office, more than 1.6 million fans attended the 233 games offered at 14 locations throughout the state during the Florida Grapefruit League's 2012 Spring Training season. This set a new per-game attendance record, the release goes on to state, with a record-setting average of 6,965 fans attending games during the month of March.
The new home of the Boston Red Sox, JetBlue Park, got top billing in the highlight's portion of the release, which touted that, with more seating than City of Palms Park, "total attendance increased by more than 30,000 fans and added nearly 2,000 fans per game."
Red Sox attendance "totaled 151,417 fans in 16 games for an average of 9,464 per game," according to the numbers provided, which also state that the largest crowd was 10,002 when the Sox took on the Washington Nationals on April 2.
Those are good numbers with other teams throughout Florida posting strong attendance tallies as well.
Five Florida Spring Training teams - the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins and Minnesota Twins (whose Spring Training facilities also are in Lee County ) - surpassed the 100,000 total attendance mark while another three - the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies - each topped 150,000.
The Governor's Office, citing an analysis by Bonn Marketing Research Group of Tallahassee, puts the economic benefit to the state at $753 million a year.
Just some peanuts and Cracker Jacks for thought.
- Breeze editorial