When it comes to two key attendance measures, the International League’s Indianapolis Indians and Charlotte Knights come out on top in 2016.
The Knights led Minor League Baseball in per-game attendance, drawing an average of 8,974 fans per game. This is the third season that the Knights have led in that category.
Two years after debuting BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte to rave reviews, the Knights once again packed the ballpark consistently in 2016, welcoming 25 sell-out crowds over the course of the regular season. In all, the Knights welcomed 628,173 fans through the gates for 70 regular season home dates this season.
The 2016 campaign at BB&T Ballpark also featured five collegiate games, as well as the 2016 Sonic Automotive Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game and 2016 Harris Teeter and Tide+ Triple-A Baseball Home Run Derby. On April 13, BB&T Ballpark welcomed a sell-out crowd of 10,205 fans for a collegiate baseball game between the University of North Carolina Tar Heels against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. In July, fans flocked to Uptown Charlotte from around the country to see the best Triple-A Baseball players compete in the mid-summer classic. The ballpark’s two key events (All-Star Game and Home Run Derby) brought in 19,614 fans to the most visited venue in Minor League Baseball.
Over the course of 77 baseball dates in 2016, the Knights welcomed a total of 675,745 baseball fans to BB&T Ballpark. In three years combined at BB&T Ballpark, the team has welcomed over 1.9 million fans (1,985,286 over 212 regular season home dates). A total of 87 regular season sell-out crowds have been amassed in three seasons in Uptown Charlotte.
The Indians, meanwhile, came out ahead in total attendance. Overall the team drew 636,888 fans over 7` openings, just edging the Knights, who finished with 628,173 fans over 70 openings.
Indianapolis also led MiLB in attendance in 2013, finished runner-up to Charlotte in 2014, and was third last season behind Sacramento and Charlotte.
“An accomplishment like this is a testament to our amazing fans that support Indians baseball year after year and our entire staff that helps create such a wonderful atmosphere at Victory Field. It’s a great recipe for success,” said Randy Lewandowski, Indianapolis Indians general manager. “It is our mission to provide memorable and affordable family fun, and the residents of Indianapolis and Central Indiana along with visitors to our great city help continue to make Victory Field the pre-eminent downtown summertime destination. We are very humbled and grateful.”
Off the field, Victory Field also faced challenges from Mother Nature. The 2016 season featured the seventh wettest and 11th warmest summer on record, according to the National Weather Service. In August, traditionally one of the highest-attended months of the Indians season, Indianapolis recorded the fourth-most rain in that month’s history.
“Adverse weather is an inevitable part of a 72-game home schedule,” said Lewandowski. “We are so proud of the Indianapolis Indians grounds crew and staff and how we prepared and responded when constantly forced into action this season.”
The 2016 season marked the 20th of baseball at the downtown Indianapolis ballpark, and Victory Field surpassed the 12 million fan benchmark. Among 160 minor league teams, only one has had higher attendance than Victory Field since the ballpark opened in 1996 (Buffalo Bisons).