A group of people sitting around a baseball field in Florida
July 30, 2018

2018 MLB Spring Training Generated More Than $680 Million for Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Sports Foundation today announced that the 2018 Florida Grapefruit League generated an economic impact of $687.1 million for the State of Florida. The Florida Grapefruit League takes place annually during the Major League Baseball (MLB) Spring Training season and features 15 MLB teams in 12 cities.

The 2018 Florida Spring Training Economic Impact Study was completed by Tallahassee-based Downs & St. Germain Research to determine the Grapefruit League’s overall economic impact, including number of attendees, jobs created, and the overall associated wages for employees.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Each year, fans from around the world come to Florida to enjoy spring training. With incredible experiences, like spring training, happening in Florida, our tourism industry continues to break records. I encourage everyone who came to Florida for spring training this year to make plans to come back next year. Those who have never been to spring training in the Sunshine State, should make this unique experience a priority for next year.”

Angela A. Suggs, President and CEO of the Florida Sports Foundation said, “The Sunshine State offers exceptional opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy the national pastime of Spring Training.  We are pleased with the continued success of the Florida Grapefruit League and look forward to many more exciting opportunities to showcase the many communities in Florida, where the world comes to play.”

The study showed a 61 percent increase from the adjusted total of the last study completed in 2009. The new methodology accounted for fans who attended multiple games during Spring Training not previously included in the 2009 study. Approximately 1,500 of the 1,497,306 attended fans were surveyed to generate the League’s economic impact and fan spending throughout the 13 Spring Training ballparks. Fan spending data was collected during multiple games at all 15 Florida Spring Training teams’ games between February 23 and March 27.

A key finding of the survey showed that of the averaged total of 6,318 fans per game, 70 percent were from outside of the host teams’ local markets (52 percent out of state; 18 percent out of county). Those fans generated nearly $584 million in economic impact. In this survey, non-local fans are categorized as individuals who were not residents of the counties in which the 13 ballparks are located.

Downs & St. Germain’s findings also showed that 7,152 jobs are created annually by Florida Spring Training, accounting for $253.5 million in wages. Fans attending games were responsible for 355,590 paid accommodation room nights at Florida-based lodging destinations. In total, fans attended an average of 2.9 games.

The Sunshine State’s annual MLB Spring Training continues to connect with fans throughout Florida and the country as those who surveyed gave their experience in Florida an average 9.3 rating on a 10-point scale. Eighty-six percent of fans are making plans to return for the 2019 Florida Spring Training season.

Florida Spring Training dates back to the late 1800s.  Under the leadership of former St. Petersburg Mayor Al Lang, four teams were recruited to play in the greater St. Petersburg area for pre-season workouts and eventually grew to nine of the MLB’s then 12 teams in 1925. The number of participating teams in the Grapefruit League has since grown to 15 of MLB’s 30 teams.  Since that time, over 50 Florida communities have hosted MLB Spring Training and eight teams have held their spring training in Florida communities for over 70 years. Since 2000, nearly 30 million fans have attended MLB Spring Training games in Florida.

Highlights from Florida’s MLB Spring training in 2018 included:

  • The New York Yankees had the highest per game average with 9,882 fans attending 16 games at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
  • The most attended day of the 2018 season was Saturday, March 24, when 64,069 fans attended the eight games of the day, for an average of 8,009 per game.
  • Houston’s 2017 World Series Championship resulted in a 21 percent increase in attendance for the Astros at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. A total of 67,931 fans attended the Astros’ Spring Training Games, up from 55,881 in 2017.
  • Seven teams, including the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, topped the 100,000 total attendance mark.
  • The Red Sox had the top total attendance of the 2018 season, with 165,688 fans attending 17 games at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers.

To access the complete results of the 2018 Florida Spring Training Economic Impact Study, click here.