By Philip Haldiman, Independent Newsmedia
Spring training numbers are in, and city officials are touting it as a successful season.
Superintendent Mike Hyland said attendance slightly dipped compared with the year prior, but the venue had the fourth highest overall attendance in the Cactus League.
With the support of three additional games, overall gross revenues surpassed last year’s mark, setting a record for the third consecutive year and a year-over-year increase since 2013, he said.
Out of the 35 games held at the complex, total attendance was 227,646, a decrease of 5.2 percent compared with last season. Ticket revenues reached about $4.3 million, a slight decrease from last season, and total revenues were about $8.5 million a slight increase from last season.
Average attendance per game was 6,504, a 13.3 percent decrease from last year.
Despite the dips, Peoria saw the third-highest attendance for a two-team facility in the Cactus League this season, behind Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale where the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies play and Camelback Ranch-Glendale where the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox play.
Mr. Hyland said a new ticket pricing initiative implemented this year that moved prices based on supply and demand helped fill the gap in the attendance dip by increasing sale revenues.
“Ticket prices could vary due to this dynamic pricing initiative where ticket prices could be adjusted if a game was trending popular to maximize revenue on demand,” he said.
Erin Shreenan, general manager of the Peoria Diamond Club, a nonprofit dedicated to local community youth programs, said the city relies on volunteers to help with the daily operations during spring training.
She said the Peoria Diamond Club started the season with 633 Red Shirt volunteers, about 24 percent of them new this season. She said almost 160 volunteers per game worked 5,500 shifts for more than 21,800 hours.
The Diamond Club also raised $23,500 for local charities.
“We are very proud of our giving and so appreciative of our support from the Diamond Club and our mission to serve local youth,” she said. “Word of mouth has spread so much that we get many new Red Shirts every year who are excited to see what they can be a part of.”
New features this year included Peoria Cove for kids, consisting of The Ballyard, a miniature baseball diamond, and The Shipyard, a playground featuring a small splash pad and play structure set in and around the frame of a seafaring ship.
A 2,100-square-foot scoreboard, with a video display measuring 35 feet high and 61 feet wide also made its debut, replacing the original scoreboard that was built in 1994. Officials said it is the largest scoreboard in the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues, with up-to-date LED technology that makes it easier for fans to see the board on sunny days, as well as from any angle in the park. It can also be divided into multiple sections to show a variety of statistics, videos, graphics and images, enhancing the in-game experience.
The Peoria Sports Complex will celebrate its 25th season next year.
Councilman Bill Patena has been to about three-quarters of the spring training facilities in the Valley, and although he may be biased, he said he thinks the Peoria Sports Complex is the top stadium in the Cactus League.
It was an amazing year with great Diamond Club volunteers, he said.
“I’ve probably attended more games this year and the first thing I notice the moment I turn into the parking lot is that you are greeted by Red Shirts … They all have smiles on their faces so whatever they are drinking keep letting them drink it. They have done a great job.”