On Thursday, February 23rd, the Philadelphia Phillies kicked off Tampa Bay area Spring Training by hosting the University of Tampa Spartans at the newly re-named Spectrum (formerly Bright House) Field. The game was one of three MLB vs college exhibitions that began the Grapefruit League schedule. As to be expected, the Phillies beat the Spartans, this year by a score of 6-0. 2,924 fans attended the contest.
This season Tampa Bay area teams will play a total of 67 Spring Training games, including split-squad but not including games against World Baseball Classic National Teams.
- Phillies: 18 home games
- Pirates: 17 home games
- Yankees: 16 home games
- Blue Jays: 16 home games
Last year, Tampa Bay area teams played 60 spring training games, drawing 449,793 fans for an average of 7,497 per game. This was a 2% decrease from 2015’s spring training attendance.
Over the last 12 years, individual teams have had several ebbs and flows in their attendance. The following chart depicts team trends as well as the overall per game attendance for spring training in the Tampa Bay area.
While Yankees spring training attendance has been consistent, Phillies spring training attendance has plummeted nearly 2,000 per game since 2011. The Blue Jays have also seen significant increases since 2011. Meanwhile, Pirates spring training attendance has increased 1,800 per game since 2007.
Without the star power of the past, it will be interesting to see if the Yankees can keep the high level attendance they have had in previous years. The Phillies are also rebuilding without big name talent, leaving the Pirates and Blue Jays as the local spring teams with the biggest talent draws. These teams play in the smallest parks in the Tampa Bay area.
I usually don’t comment too often on Spring Training other than overall trends. Due to tourism, spring training is not an indicator of baseball passion in Tampa Bay. I will have occasional posts if anything out of the norm happens and I will talk about total trends after the Grapefruit League concludes in early April.
It’s good to have baseball back in Tampa Bay.