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Baseball In Florida


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While perusing Ballpark Digest and noticing how much money the state of Florida is throwing at spring training facilities, I started to consider the overall picture of professional baseball in the state and not just the Marlins and their current situation. I know that spring training is important to Florida in terms of tourism revenue. I also know that because of spring training, a lot of the Florida State League teams have trouble drawing fans for their games. After all, you have had two months of major league players up close and personal, and then you ask fans to buy tickets to come and see the lower level of minor league baseball. It brought me to this though........what is the spring training effect on attendance at Marlins and Rays games? Does spring training just put the availability of the product over the top and reduce demand for regular season games? I think it very well could. The major league season is too long as it is, and then when you add on spring training games being available in the same market.......man........the cause of the attendance problems for the Marlins might be more than just DS and rain.......and in fact might not be cured by a new stadium even if it had a roof. Additionally, it has been said by MLB that the SFLA market is very important to them because it is a gateway to the Carribean. Maybe so........but even without the Fish you STILL have spring training. Its not like MLB would be abandoning the market if the Fish left. I know I am going to get lit up for this post, but it is not meant to flame it is meant to evoke a serious exchange of ideas. If you disagree, let me know.....but let me know exactly why.

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I do not think spring training throughout Florida has any effect at all on Marlins attendance. Many of the people who go to Marlins games have never been to a spring training site. My friends in Miami-Dade County who have visited spring training sites have done so as part of a Florida road trip or as a weekend getaway thing. I think it is viewed as 2 different experiences. When I've done it I've noticed many of the fans are on vacation and are not from South Florida or they are residents of whatever the particular spring training city is. When I was in Port St. Lucie most of the fans were either Mets fans from NY or PSL locals or among the many baseball fans from around the country who do tours of all the ST sites in the state.

 

Many in Miami-Dade County complain that Dolphin Stadium is too far away and they have to drive even farther to get to a spring training site so.....no, I don't think that's an issue at all.

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The Orioles are the closest (in Broward County). Here's a map: Grapefruit League Map

 

You can go to a Marlins game after work on a weeknight or a Saturday night. You can't do that with a spring training game.

 

 

I think after the Orioles, Jupiter would be the next closest. I spend a little over an hour getting to DS and Roger Dean is another 20-30 minutes north of me in good traffic. People in South Dade complain now that DS is too far for them to go. If they have an hours drive then it might be if they are just the casual fan/weekend warrior type person. And I also think that particular casual fan with a family will not go to weekend games that are threatened by rain. Can't honestly say I blame them. A family of four, driving at least an hour one way, even thinking of a wet night would be a huge distraction when the movie theater is right down the street.

I agree with Strike's assesment that most of the people going to ST games are tourists. I see mostly tourists at the ST games I go to. Nothing wrong with that. Tourism is our big thing. And walking through the parking lots I see more out of state vehicles than anything else. But I also think the biggest reason for that is they are 1:00 games. This may be a tropical paradise but we locals have to make a living. LOL

We basically go to one or two ST games that are not at Roger Dean but are Marlins away games and a minimum of 5 at Roger Dean. The reason for so few is what I would assume most locals think. Why travel 2 or 3 hours (or more) one way to watch the stars of other teams play a couple of innings? We go to this many ST games because we like to get an idea of what our minor leaguers are like and see how the starters are coming along. We don't care anything at all about the Tigers (for example) minor league system.

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The Marlins dominate Florida's baseball fans. Simple.

 

South Florida, Southwest Florida, Central Florida, the Big Bend, North Florida, even the Panhandle now.

 

Heck, parts of Southern Georgia in the Tallahassee TV Market may lose the Braves for good and get Marlins Baseball on FSN as early as next year if FSN Florida can make a deal with FSN South.

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I dont think ST has an effect on attendence

 

The bottom line is most people in Miami-Dade never go to ST games. The closest site is in Fort Lauderdale, and other than the couple of Marlins games there every March, theres no reason to go to those games either.

 

ST games are dominated by fans of the teams playing or by locals. Neither play a role in Marlins attendence

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While perusing Ballpark Digest and noticing how much money the state of Florida is throwing at spring training facilities, I started to consider the overall picture of professional baseball in the state and not just the Marlins and their current situation.

 

 

Here's a link that might be of interest:

 

http://www.mesacvb.com/cactusleague/index.cfm

 

Click on "Attendee Survey". This has a lot of interesting demographic information re: spring training attendees. The survey is a few years old (2003) and it's for the Cactus League, not the Grapefruit League, but it gives you a general idea. I believe that 50-60% of attendees surveyed were from out of state. Combine that with the 1pm start times and I'd be surprised if that had a huge impact on "baseball fatigue" for locals. For me, spring training is a completely different animal from regular season baseball (noncompetitive, closer interaction with players, relaxed atmosphere, etc.).

 

Also I think it helps to have the team train away from the home turf. The Diamondbacks and Marlins did it right by having their teams train a few hours away but still within their TV markets. The D-Rays will fix that error in 2009 when they move to Port Charlotte.

 

Personally, to LHR's original point, I'd be more concerned with stadium funding fatigue than attendance fatigue. The Marlins are probably being unfairly lumped in with the funding of stadiums in general in Florida. There is no doubt that funding ST facilities is a huge economic win for those communities (mostly near Tampa and Orlando as others have pointed out) because it brings in tourist dollars from other parts of the country, whereas the economic development argument is less clear for other stadiums.

 

As another out of state person from an area that is worthy of MLB (in my opinion), I sometimes grumble to myself that same sentiment being subtly expressed by LHR - "c'mon Phoenix, Tampa, and Miami! You already have spring training! Why do you get MLB too while we continue to get hosed?" But again, the bottom line is that spring training is a completely different animal, and fairly inaccessible to locals other than an occasional weekend game or (rare) night game. Even moreso in SFLA where your only option is the pathetic Orioles.

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While perusing Ballpark Digest and noticing how much money the state of Florida is throwing at spring training facilities, I started to consider the overall picture of professional baseball in the state and not just the Marlins and their current situation.

 

 

Here's a link that might be of interest:

 

http://www.mesacvb.com/cactusleague/index.cfm

 

Click on "Attendee Survey". This has a lot of interesting demographic information re: spring training attendees. The survey is a few years old (2003) and it's for the Cactus League, not the Grapefruit League, but it gives you a general idea. I believe that 50-60% of attendees surveyed were from out of state. Combine that with the 1pm start times and I'd be surprised if that had a huge impact on "baseball fatigue" for locals. For me, spring training is a completely different animal from regular season baseball (noncompetitive, closer interaction with players, relaxed atmosphere, etc.).

 

Also I think it helps to have the team train away from the home turf. The Diamondbacks and Marlins did it right by having their teams train a few hours away but still within their TV markets. The D-Rays will fix that error in 2009 when they move to Port Charlotte.

 

Personally, to LHR's original point, I'd be more concerned with stadium funding fatigue than attendance fatigue. The Marlins are probably being unfairly lumped in with the funding of stadiums in general in Florida. There is no doubt that funding ST facilities is a huge economic win for those communities (mostly near Tampa and Orlando as others have pointed out) because it brings in tourist dollars from other parts of the country, whereas the economic development argument is less clear for other stadiums.

 

As another out of state person from an area that is worthy of MLB (in my opinion), I sometimes grumble to myself that same sentiment being subtly expressed by LHR - "c'mon Phoenix, Tampa, and Miami! You already have spring training! Why do you get MLB too while we continue to get hosed?" But again, the bottom line is that spring training is a completely different animal, and fairly inaccessible to locals other than an occasional weekend game or (rare) night game. Even moreso in SFLA where your only option is the pathetic Orioles.

 

CLer,

I really dont share that sentiment. If communities are able to host st and reg season, bully for them. I really was looking at this possibility as to why the Fish struggle so horribly at the gate. And I understand completely that in sitchs such as this it is rarely just one reason that figures into the equation. I am still not convinced that it play a factor, albeit small from the responses I have received. So what are the factors?

A) A poorly run franchise?

B) Large retiree population with allegiances to other teams?

C) Too much competition for the entertainment dollar?

D) Poor hispanic marketing (certainly the MLB gateway to Latin America can do better than AA level attendance)

E) The roof

I think it is likely a combination of all of these. I know the Fish researched how many rainouts the minor league team in SA has had in the last 3 or so years, and that is what led them to believe that a roof in SA wasnt necessary. But I also believe that to blame all the attendance woes on the lack of a roof in SFLA, gives management an out that keeps them from looking introspectively at what they might need to do better.

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Well if you don't share my original sentiment that's fine, my response (to myself) is "well then move to Florida or Arizona - problem solved".

 

re: your reasons, in another thread someone is claiming that Miami is too poor of a market and I think that's a completely bogus argument.

 

I think that all of your reasons above may be contributing factors with the exception of the retiree population allegiances... but I think that by far a greater factor then any of those reasons is Dolphin Stadium itself.

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Well if you don't share my original sentiment that's fine, my response (to myself) is "well then move to Florida or Arizona - problem solved".

 

re: your reasons, in another thread someone is claiming that Miami is too poor of a market and I think that's a completely bogus argument.

 

I think that all of your reasons above may be contributing factors with the exception of the retiree population allegiances... but I think that by far a greater factor then any of those reasons is Dolphin Stadium itself.

 

 

One other possibility that I have thought of that kind of ties in to your DS theory. Have the Fish, in an attempt to get a new facility, been consistently telling everyone that the need is because of how horrible DS is? If so, then I would go along with you. I have seen many situations where a franchise, in order to convince a community of a need for a new facility, will really demonize the current digs. It is a dangerous message. Especially if you wind up with a protracted negotiation period. What you wind up doing is making people not want to come out to wherever you are currently playing.

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I can only speak about AZ and it really has no effect - i love spring training and try to check out as much as possible - but it is so different from a major league game - a lot of the times players will leave the facility after they get in their duty

 

i have yet to catch a weekday game though - start times are too early and locals would have to call off work, unless retired

 

most of the fans I see are either retired or people on ST vacation - the rest is made up by locals - many just enjoy paying their $5, throwing a towel down on the berm behind the outfield, sunbathing and having a beer

 

all the teams in AZ are pretty close and definitely in the heart of the market the d-backs draw from - if anything I think it helps - it keeps baseball on peoples mind and gets them in the mood for the start of the season - with the dbacks down in tucson it helps them expand their base and get the people down there familiar with the team and ready for the sidewinders (their triple a team) which also plays in tucson

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While perusing Ballpark Digest and noticing how much money the state of Florida is throwing at spring training facilities, I started to consider the overall picture of professional baseball in the state and not just the Marlins and their current situation. I know that spring training is important to Florida in terms of tourism revenue. I also know that because of spring training, a lot of the Florida State League teams have trouble drawing fans for their games. After all, you have had two months of major league players up close and personal, and then you ask fans to buy tickets to come and see the lower level of minor league baseball. It brought me to this though........what is the spring training effect on attendance at Marlins and Rays games? Does spring training just put the availability of the product over the top and reduce demand for regular season games? I think it very well could. The major league season is too long as it is, and then when you add on spring training games being available in the same market.......man........the cause of the attendance problems for the Marlins might be more than just DS and rain.......and in fact might not be cured by a new stadium even if it had a roof. Additionally, it has been said by MLB that the SFLA market is very important to them because it is a gateway to the Carribean. Maybe so........but even without the Fish you STILL have spring training. Its not like MLB would be abandoning the market if the Fish left. I know I am going to get lit up for this post, but it is not meant to flame it is meant to evoke a serious exchange of ideas. If you disagree, let me know.....but let me know exactly why.

 

 

Dude, do you realize how far our training facility is from Dolphin Stadium ? Its a 2 hour drive.....not that many fans that live in Miami or Ft Lauderdale go to ST games.

 

People in other parts of the country just don't understand how big Florida is......I had a friend that never being to Fla before assumed Key West, Tampa and Orlando were all suburbs of Miami :rolleyes:

 

 

Well if you don't share my original sentiment that's fine, my response (to myself) is "well then move to Florida or Arizona - problem solved".

 

re: your reasons, in another thread someone is claiming that Miami is too poor of a market and I think that's a completely bogus argument.

 

I think that all of your reasons above may be contributing factors with the exception of the retiree population allegiances... but I think that by far a greater factor then any of those reasons is Dolphin Stadium itself.

 

 

One other possibility that I have thought of that kind of ties in to your DS theory. Have the Fish, in an attempt to get a new facility, been consistently telling everyone that the need is because of how horrible DS is? If so, then I would go along with you. I have seen many situations where a franchise, in order to convince a community of a need for a new facility, will really demonize the current digs. It is a dangerous message. Especially if you wind up with a protracted negotiation period. What you wind up doing is making people not want to come out to wherever you are currently playing.

 

That's part of what has happened. People percieve it to be a bad place to watch a game, and granted its not ideal, but its not the worst.

 

Interesting.......so how far is Miami-Dade from the nearest spring training site(s)? Maybe those sites are further away than what I thought?

 

 

Baltimore plays the closest to DS, about a 20 minute drive. But the Marlins play at Roger Dean Stadium in Stuart, which is about 2 hr drive from DS

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I can only speak about AZ and it really has no effect - i love spring training and try to check out as much as possible - but it is so different from a major league game - a lot of the times players will leave the facility after they get in their duty

 

i have yet to catch a weekday game though - start times are too early and locals would have to call off work, unless retired

 

most of the fans I see are either retired or people on ST vacation - the rest is made up by locals - many just enjoy paying their $5, throwing a towel down on the berm behind the outfield, sunbathing and having a beer

 

all the teams in AZ are pretty close and definitely in the heart of the market the d-backs draw from - if anything I think it helps - it keeps baseball on peoples mind and gets them in the mood for the start of the season - with the dbacks down in tucson it helps them expand their base and get the people down there familiar with the team and ready for the sidewinders (their triple a team) which also plays in tucson

 

PhxPhin - As a huge Indians fan and annual Cactus League visitor, I am very psyched that the Tribe will be moving to your home town in a few years. Any news on whether the Dodgers or another team will be heading to Goodyear?

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right now the two teams you consistently hear that may come west are the dogers & reds - i think Glendale is targeting both

 

casa grande is also trying to get in on the spring training action

 

I know Goodyear is trying for a second team - it would make their bid to the sports & tourism authority iron clad - even with just the Indians I don't see really any problem

 

the dodgers would be nice given that the stadium would be the furthest west and just off the I-10 - LA fans could make it in 3 1/2 to 5 hours, pending on where they are at and how fast they like to drive - however, LA is the jewel that all cities want

 

i'm pretty sure cincy signed an exclusion negotiation agreement with glendale

 

goodyear has said they expect a second team and the hardest part was getting the first to commit - just no idea who it would be

 

i think it makes sense for the twins to be out here - i just have no idea about their situation in FL

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It looks like the Reds are staying in Sarasota according to this article:

 

http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll.../609270398/1060

 

If Glendale gets the golden goose (the Dodgers) and Goodyear still needs another team (as they are currently planning on a two team facility), I think the best candidate would be to move the Rockies up and away from Hi Corbett Field in Tucson.

 

I haven't heard anything on the Twins other than they are happy in Fort Myers. Either them or the Astros would make the most sense geographically speaking.

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Baltimore plays the closest to DS, about a 20 minute drive. But the Marlins play at Roger Dean Stadium in Stuart, which is about 2 hr drive from DS

 

Actually it's Jupiter. Stuart is alot farther north. But 2 hrs from DS to Jupiter is about right.

 

It looks like the Reds are staying in Sarasota according to this article:

 

http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll.../609270398/1060

 

If Glendale gets the golden goose (the Dodgers) and Goodyear still needs another team (as they are currently planning on a two team facility), I think the best candidate would be to move the Rockies up and away from Hi Corbett Field in Tucson.

 

I haven't heard anything on the Twins other than they are happy in Fort Myers. Either them or the Astros would make the most sense geographically speaking.

 

I wouldn't be so high on getting the Dodgers. I believe I read someplace that the town here has basically kissed blue butt and gave them everything they wanted to keep them right where they are. I do believe DodgerTown stays right where it is. It's a tradition type thing.

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I wouldn't be so high on getting the Dodgers. I believe I read someplace that the town here has basically kissed blue butt and gave them everything they wanted to keep them right where they are. I do believe DodgerTown stays right where it is. It's a tradition type thing.

 

I'm not high or low on it, but the Dodgers moving to Arizona is inevitable. Before the ink was even dry on the agreement between the Indians and Goodyear, the Dodgers began formally setting the wheels in motion for a move to AZ (which is important because teams need to move in pairs for scheduling purposes). The O'Malleys sold, most of the original Brooklyn fans are gone, and attendance is poor since few SoCal Dodger fans want to fly to Vero Beach as opposed to drive to AZ.

 

But I think you are making a valid point about Vero Beach. I wouldn't be surprised if another team ends up relocating their ST in "Dodgertown" in part because of the tradition and support in that community.

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