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Grapefruit League attendance near all-time high in 2014 

April 8, 2014
Special toThe Breeze , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Major League Baseball's Spring Training continues to be a fan favorite at Florida's 14 locations as average per game attendance increased four percent from 2013 for an average of 6,882 per game.

The average per game total in March narrowly misses the all-time record of 6,965 per game set in 2012, when two games between the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees were played in the inaugural games in Marlins Park. In 211 total games, 1,452,114 fans passed through the turnstiles.

The total attendance figure was compiled by the Florida Sports Foundation, 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. Exhibition games against college teams are not included in the final totals.

The largest crowd of the season was on Friday, March 21, when the Philadelphia Phillies hosted the Boston Red Sox before 11,210 fans at Bright House Field in Clearwater.

Four teams, the Boston Red Sox (Jet Blue Park, Fort Myers), Detroit Tigers (Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland), Pitts-burgh Pirates (McKechnie Field, Bradenton) and Washington Nationals (Space Coast Stadium) set new average per game attendance records.

On Sunday, March 23, a total of 69,097 fans attended eight games statewide for an average attendance of 8,637 per game. It is the highest daily total for an eight-game schedule of games.

The Tampa Bay Rays drew a total of 7,852 to their March 16 game against the Red Sox, the highest attendance since the Rays moved to Charlotte County Stadium in 2009. The total surpassed the previous high of 7,834 against the New York Yankees in 2010. The Rays drew 78,624 fans for 14 games, an average of 5,616 per game.

The Red Sox drew 147,669 fans to JetBlue Park for 15 games, an average of 9,845 per game. The largest crowd was 10,147 on March 26 against the Orioles.

The Twins drew 107,806 fans to Hammond Stadium for 14 games (two rainouts) for an average attendance of 7,700. Their largest crowd was 9,298 on March 22 against the Yankees.

The 2014 season celebrated the 100th anniversary of Spring Training Baseball in Pinellas County, the birthplace of Florida Spring Training as we know it today. It was 1914 when Al Lang brought the St. Louis Browns to St. Petersburg for pre-season workouts, opening the door for more teams to follow.

Since that time, the preseason workouts have become an economic benefit to Florida providing the state 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.

Since 2000, a total of 23,464,074 fans have attended Spring Training games in Florida.



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