On Saturday, the Florida State League played their annual All-Star Game pitting the North Division vs South Division. The North Division won 6-4, thanks to a 4-run ninth inning comeback.
But more importantly to the focus of this website, this year’s game was played in the Tampa Bay area. It was the first Florida State League All-Star Game played at McKechnie Field, home of the Bradenton Marauders.
From a scheduling perspective, the 2014 FSL All-Star Game was unique as it was the only baseball game in the local area. Both the 2011 and 2013 games coincided with Tampa Bay Rays games. As a matter of fact, the only other sporting event in the Tampa Bay area yesterday was the US Women’s National Team soccer match versus France at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
With conditions in their favor, it is no surprise the Florida State League All-Star Game drew well. According to the boxscore, 5,882 fans came to the game. While many fans travel far distances for all-star games, and the stands are littered with jerseys and hats of all the Florida State League teams, I would guess most of the attendance is from Bradenton Marauders fans or local baseball fans eager to catch a glimpse of the stars of tomorrow.
The 5,882 fans in attendance is not only good news for the Bradenton Marauders, but also good news for the Florida State League. The attendance for the 2014 Florida State League All-Star Game was the highest for an All-Star Game in eight years and according to a tweet by John Lembo of the Bradenton Herald, it was also the 3rd highest attendance in the All-Star Game’s 53-year history.
Here is a chart showing the year, location, host team, and attendance of Florida State League All-Star Games since 2006.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, the Marauders, and the City of Bradenton have invested a lot of money and effort into the McKechnie Field experience. Lights were installed in 2008; a wrap-around concourse, outfield tiki bar, and upgraded seating were added in 2013; and a new clubhouse building is planned for 2015.
If the 2014 Florida State League All-Star Game is any measure, the investment is paying off and baseball is doing well in Bradenton area.
(Note: Past All-Star Game attendance data acquired through various boxscores. See 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. I might be the only looking for such data, but there is no central depot for Minor League All-Star game archives and available data only goes back to 2006.)