A new era is fueling increased fan interest in the Syracuse Mets (Class AAA; International League), who are experiencing some major attendance gains in 2019.
Prior to the 2018 season, the New York Mets purchased the then Syracuse Chiefs, which eventually facilitated the Syracuse franchise becoming the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate and rebranding to adopt the identity of its owner/MLB parent. The purchase did not trigger an immediate affiliation shift–the Chiefs played the 2018 season as a Washington Nationals’ affiliate, while the Mets fulfilled the final season of their player development contract (PDC) with the then Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League)–but a new era took shape last fall, when it was announced that the Chiefs franchise would be rebranded as the Mets.
In its first season as the Syracuse Mets, the franchise is experiencing major attendance gains at NBT Bank Stadium, even in the early-season months that have traditionally been a challenge in the cold-weather climate. According to general manager Jason Smorol, the presence of the Mets has undoubtedly been a factor in the attendance increase. More from Syracuse.com:
Overall, Syracuse is averaging 4,505 fans per game this season, 14th in the International League. That’s an improvement over the final mark of 4,202 last season.
If Syracuse’s current pace holds form, it will soar much higher than last year’s final average. Crowds usually grow during the summer months as school lets out and the weather improves.
“It’s April and May in the International League. And whether you’re Pawtucket, whether you’re Rochester, whether you’re Buffalo, whether you’re any of these teams up in the Northeast, you’ve got to get through April and May. And we’ve just gotten through April and May very well,” Smorol said.
“It’s the Met effect. It is exactly or more than we thought it was. It’s fantastic. There’s a lot of Mets fans. Attendance has been great. Nothing has changed other than the fact of the introduction of the New York Mets.”
Given the amount of changes made leading up to the 2019 season, it seemed as though it could be a big year in Syracuse, even before it was announced that former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow would be on the club’s roster. Thus far, the Syracuse Mets are having success in their full-fledged association with the New York Mets and–with plans for a long-term lease in Syracuse and NBT Bank Stadium renovations taking shape–could be poised to see sold fan support going forward.
RELATED STORIES: Potential Syracuse Mets Lease Extension Nearing Vote; Mets to Extend Syracuse Lease if NBT Bank Stadium Upgrades Move Forward; New Downtown Syracuse Ballpark Debated; NBT Bank Stadium Renovation Being Explored; Syracuse Chiefs Sale to Mets Approved by Shareholders; Syracuse Chiefs Sale Price: $18 Million; Mets Announce Purchase of Syracuse Chiefs; New York Mets to Buy Syracuse Chiefs