A new era in Syracuse started with a bang in 2019, as the Syracuse Mets (Class AAA; International League) posted strong attendance gains in their first season as a New York Mets affiliate.
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 the period since, there have been several positive developments for the franchise, including an attendance spike in 2019. The Syracuse Mets posted an 18% increase in per-game average attendance this season, with a positive reaction to the new branding and affiliation among the factors behind the gains. More from Syracuse.com:
Syracuse averaged 4,962 fans per game this season, an 18 percent jump from the 4,202 in 2018. This was the first year New York sent its Triple-A players to Syracuse, which was previously affiliated with the Washington Nationals.
The Syracuse Mets finished 75-66 and its roster included a steady stream of quality major league depth players in its lineup. Syracuse also got lucky with an unusually good run of weather, suffering only four rainouts.
“We knew there was going to be a bump. We knew the excitement of the Mets was a real thing, and the Mets brand is a real thing. I think it really exceeded my expectations,” said Syracuse general manager Jason Smorol. “We got lucky with weather. We had good weather. We got opening day. We got the Fourth of July. We got Education Day. We got all the big days in. Everything kind of fell into place for us this year for a great year.”
This summer was marked by other steps to help bolster of future Triple-A baseball in Syracuse. Most notably, the Mets and Onondaga County agreed to a lease extension that keeps the team at NBT Bank Stadium through the 2043 season, while plans are underway for $25 million in future renovations.
We will have a full roundup of 2019 MiLB regular-season attendance figures next Monday.
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