CONTACT: Nick Gandy (850) 488-8347 Governor Bush announces 2003 Grapefruit League season posts 5 percent attendance increase
TALLAHASSEE - Governor Jeb Bush today announced that Major League Baseball Spring Training in Florida showed a five percent increase in per game attendance during the 2003 season. During the month of March 2003, in which 265 games were played, the 17 Spring Training sites in Florida averaged a total of 5,272 spectators per game. In contrast, the 2002 Spring Training season averaged 5,028 spectators per game in 306 games.
"No one does Spring Training baseball better than Florida, and these attendance figures exemplify that point," said Governor Bush. "The Grapefruit League season is uniquely Florida, attracting supporters of the 18 teams to our state during the month of March. I am proud of our rich history and thank baseball fans from around the nation for their continued support."
Total attendance this Spring for the annual games reached 1,397,144 according to figures compiled by the Florida Sports Foundation, the official sports promotion and development organization of the state of Florida. The spring training sites statewide supplied the statistics. A total of 11 games were cancelled due to rain.
Four teams topped the 100,000 mark in total attendance as the New York Yankees led the way with 162,890 fans for 16 games at Tampa's Legends Field (an average of 10,180 per game). Also drawing more than 124,000 fans were the Atlanta Braves at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex (8,267 per game), 115,000 fans to Boston Red Sox games in Fort Myers (7,188 per game), and 106,209 fans to Minnesota Twins games at the Lee County Sports Complex (7,081 per game).
Recording a record number of fans were the Red Sox and Twins along with the Houston Astros at Osceola County Stadium (53,851 total, averaging 4,142 per game) and Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton (64,064 total, averaging 4,271 per game).
A total of 18 Major League Baseball teams hold their annual spring training at 17 sites in Florida during the month of March each year.
Following an economic impact survey during the 2000 Spring Training season that showed a $450 million economic impact to the state, the Florida Legislature provided $75 million in matching funds for spring training sites in need of renovations. Five municipalities, the City of Lakeland (Detroit Tigers), the City of Clearwater (Philadelphia Phillies), the City of Dunedin (Toronto Blue Jays), Indian River County (Los Angeles Dodgers), and Osceola County (Houston Astros) were awarded funding. Four of the five renovation projects were completed in time for the 2003 Spring Training season. The City of Clearwater is building a new stadium.
2003 Spring Training Attendances -- Team-by-Team Atlanta Braves -Cracker Jack Stadium - Disney's Wide World of Sports (Capacity: 9,500)