The Florida Sports Foundation estimates that the 2018 Major League Baseball spring training in Florida generated an economic impact of $687.1 million. The study also showed that 7,152 jobs are created annually by Florida Spring Training, accounting for $253.5 million in wages. MLB spring training takes place annually and features 15 MLB teams in 12 Florida cities.
Florida Spring Training dates back to the late 1800s. Four teams were originally 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.