By Philip Haldiman
About 180,200 people, a decrease of just over 10% compared with last season, attended spring training games this year at the Peoria Sports Complex, home to the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners.
Officials say the decrease is due to a number of factors including the loss of four regular spring training games due to Major League Baseball sending the Mariners to Japan to open the regular season in mid-March.
The spring training season in Peoria brought in about $6.7 million in revenue, also about a 10% decrease compared with last season. Revenue includes ticket sales, concessions, merchandise, parking and sponsorships.
The season featured 30 games but only 25 were typical. Due to the Mariners opening in Japan four regular season roster games were replaced with two prospect games and two limited roster games.
A report stated the weather also impacted the 2019 spring training attendance — there was one rainout, March 12. It also stated the first game was held Friday, Feb. 22, when the high temperature only reached 47 degrees, a 122-year-old record for the coldest temperature.
“The remainder of February was the coldest in 21 years, with record amounts of rainfall as well. The early February start was due to changes in MLB’s collective bargaining agreement, and this impacted attendance. Just as was experienced in 2018, every Cactus League ballpark drew its smallest crowd before March 1. In fact, the league hosted its fewest total number of games in the last three years, but increased its per-game average by 4% over 2018,” a report stated.
The city created unique fan-based opportunities to make up for this year’s attendance challenges.
For example, there were two “prospect” games, which featured minor league players from the Mariners and Padres, which were community-oriented at a $1 ticket price. Another pair of late season games featured a limited roster of Mariners players that had not traveled to Japan. Additionally, the Peoria Sports Complex took advantage of another schedule weakness by hosting a free movie night for residents, March 15.
Spring training by the numbers
The following are Peoria Sports Complex statistics from spring training 2019.
*25 regular games, 2 prospect games, 2 limited roster games, 1 rainout
^Does not include 2 prospect games. Discounted tickets and no parking fee.
[Source: City of Peoria]
Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697 or email@example.com.