Major League Baseball reports record average attendance in 2018.
The Baltimore Orioles closed out their spring training season in Sarasota last weekend in much the same way they’ve done it for the last 10 years: with more than 100,000 fans passing through the gates.
In attracting 103,294 fans to Ed Smith Stadium, the Orioles sold out six of 15 games this spring, including 8,792 to see the New York Yankees on March 14. The team averaged 6,886 fans per home game. It was the eighth time in nine years the American League-East team broke the 100,000 attendance mark.
Overall, it was a strong attendance year for spring baseball in Florida and Arizona. According to MLB.com, the average spring attendance reached a record high over 447 games played.
An average of 8,078 fans came out to the ballpark each day -- a 7.3 percent increase over last year, when MLB teams drew an average of 7,527 fans per game. The previous record was set in 2008, when an average of 7,793 fans came through the turnstiles. The 3,610,738 fans represented the fifth-highest total ever.
“Each spring we enjoy outstanding support from our fans, from those local to Sarasota to our many visitors from the Mid-Atlantic region,” said David Rovine, Vice President of Orioles-Sarasota. “As we prepare to welcome our one millionth fan next season, we are especially proud that our facilities at Ed Smith Stadium and Twin Lakes Park continue to thrive as first-class destinations for baseball and entertainment – from Spring Training, Orioles Major and Minor League operations, and Gulf Coast League Baseball, to countless clinics, tournaments, and other baseball, arts, and community events throughout the year.’’
Baltimore finished with a 17-12 spring record. The team opens its regular season Thursday in Baltimore against the Minnesota Twins.
Next spring, the Atlanta Braves are expected to play the last game of the spring season at their new facility in North Port. Construction delays scuttled plans to plan the entire season in Sarasota County.