Tim Tebow may not have entered the game until the top of the eighth inning last night as a pinch-hitter for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but that didn’t stop fans from flooding Harrisburg’s FNB Field to catch a glimpse of the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Tebow’s presence helped the Senators draw 8,036 fans, the third-largest in team history and second-biggest crowd in the minors yesterday. The packed ballpark was more than twice the Senators’ average, and certainly well beyond what they would typically draw on a Wednesday. The previous evening, when Tebow did start in left field for Binghamton, 6,284 fans were in attendance to watch. The two teams close out their series today in Harrisburg.
It was a quiet night in the minors on Monday, with just 10 games on the slate coming only in the Southern and Florida State leagues as the major league draft took center stage at the MLB Network studios in New Jersey. Rather than wash our hands of the evening, let’s take a look at how teams these 11 teams fared at the gate in their brief moment in the spotlight.
It has not been all baseball and apple pies for minor league teams in the Northeast. A long, cold and wet winter extended into April, then creeped into May for many teams in the International and Eastern leagues—including the Syracuse Chiefs. So perhaps it’s a sign that spring has finally arrived to see the Chiefs atop the minor league attendance leaderboard yesterday.
Syracuse drew 12,269 fans to NBT Bank Stadium yesterday, easily the biggest crowd in the minors and well above the ballpark’s listed capacity of 11,671. The attraction for the Chiefs? You guessed it, an Education Day promotion. (Hmm, where have we heard that one before?)
The Bandbox News Attendance Tracker is back, but with a bit of a different look. After a couple of weeks, we noticed that tracking teams solely based on overall attendance tended to favor Triple-A and Double-A clubs. While there can be exceptions, the bigger ballparks in bigger markets are going to generate bigger crowds.
So the Bandbox News analytics team got together to track down the capacity for every minor league ballpark—please let us know if any ballpark capacities need to be updated—and created a new report based off of how close each team comes to filling that capacity. In other words, this new report focuses on the teams that came closest to generating a sellout. This should help level the playing field.
The Dayton Dragons, which have sold out every game at Fifth Third Field since making their debut in 1998, should feature prominently on these lists. In fact, their crowd of 7,310 last night registered just above their listed capacity and topped both attendance lists.
Our Attendance Tracker is typically dominated by Triple-A teams, which makes sense considering International and Pacific Coast league stadiums have larger capacities than their minor league brethren. And although the top four crowds from last night happened at Triple-A venues, 10 of the top 20 draws occurred in non-Triple-A venues.
Thirsty Thursday and Education Day promotions dominated yesterday’s schedules, so without further ado, the top 20 draws in minor league baseball.
While we’re here, and since we’re approaching the end of the second month of the season, let’s take a look at the overall attendance leaders, sorted by per-game average. As expected, Triple-A teams are at the top of the leaderboard, except for the Dayton Dragons, who keep on selling out ballgames.
Not only did the Albuquerque Isotopes have the cutest promotion in minor league baseball yesterday, the Pacific Coast League franchise also drew the biggest crowd in the sport.
The Isotopes passed out a team card set featuring players posing with dogs from a local animal rescue to the first 3,000 fans at Isotopes Park last night. I know. How great is that? So great that it helped them draw 8,222 fans last night, tops in the minors (the complete attendance top 20 can be found at the bottom of this post).
Goodness gracious, the trend continues. The top crowd of yesterday came on—wait for it—an Education Day promotion. This time the kids in Indianapolis took a break from school by filling Victory Field with 12,279 screaming schoolchildren. Not bad for a Tuesday afternoon.
Top 20 Attendance Leaders for May 22