A shortened spring-training season, combined with an earlier start and late releases of schedules that prevented many fans from making plans all combined to depress total spring-training attendance in 2018. Whether or not the same mistakes will be made in 2019 remain to be seen, but at least we can plan on spring training starting at roughly the same date in 2019 as it did in 2018. From the Daily News-Sun:
A June 19 work session presentation to the Surprise City Council revealed that gross revenue dropped eight percent for Surprise. The total of $6,718,261 was an 8 percent drop from the 2017 gross revenue of $7,292,784. Ticket sales of 190,043 marked a four percent drop from 2017 (197,425).
“I’m not a big fan of the early start and I figured the numbers would be that way because of that,” Councilman Patrick Duffy said….
In all Surprise received $1,950,049 (down 15 percent from 2017), the Royals got $1,379,653 (down 3 percent) and the Rangers got $1,192,742 (down 12 percent).
(The disparity between the Royals and the Rangers was due to one less game on the Texas schedule.)
When you look at the numbers presented to the Surprise City Council, there still are plenty of bright spots. Per-game attendance was up at Surprise and across the Cactus League, even if total attendance was down. Night games attract 31 percent more attendees than did day games, and there’s been a push across all of spring training, both in Florida and Arizona, to schedule more night games, especially at the tail end of the spring schedule. (There were more Seattle Mariners night games scheduled in Peoria than in years past as an experiment to see if the change would affect player performance. And while there’s been no official release on the effect of more night games, it may not be a coincidence that the Mariners have one of the best records in the American League and a better record than any National League team.)