Red Sox, Twins draw record number of fans during Spring Training 2016

0713leecoSports

Florida’s Spring Training Baseball reached a record high per game attendance this season, with the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins ranking No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, for largest crowds during the 2016 Major League Baseball Spring Training Games. Florida hosts 15 Florida Grapefruit League teams, and Lee County is the Spring Training home to the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park and the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.

In 2016, the Boston Red Sox played 15 games at JetBlue Park with a total attendance of 149,397, with an average of 9,960 attendees per game. The largest crowd tallied 10,103 on March 10, when the Red Sox played the Minnesota Twins.

At Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex, the Minnesota Twins also played 15 games in 2016, and the total attendance was 121,005, with an average per game of 8,067 attendees. Their largest crowd peaked at 9,109, when the Twins took on the New York Yankees on Sunday, March 20.

Attendance figures are compiled by the Florida Sports Foundation from daily box scores of games, between Major League teams played in the State of Florida, and verified by each of the 15 teams in the Florida Grapefruit League.

The estimated total economic impact for the Red Sox and Twins spring training seasons in Lee County is $48 million annually. That’s according to a 2009 study, the most recent for which such Lee County data is available.

Lee County Sports Development was created in 2003 to meet the growing demand for sports development in Lee County, and is recognized by the Florida Sports Foundation as one of the state’s 25 Regional Sports Commissions. The Lee County Sports Development office leads the recruitment and implementation of amateur and professional sports events and activities in Lee County, with the goal of providing economic impact to Lee County. Through local partnerships with Lee County Parks & Recreation and others, the Lee County Sports Development office provides services designed to address the needs of local, national and international sports entities including housing, access to venues, event management, transportation assistance, event promotion, marketing and local sponsorship opportunities. For more information, call 239-533-5273 or visit www.leegov.com/sports.

Miracle set to open the season with fireworks show!

PRMRY_FC

Let’s play ball! The Fort Myers Miracle begin the 2016 season on Thursday, April 7 followed by Opening Friday Fireworks on Friday, April 8 at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.

The Bradenton Marauders are in town for a quick two-game homestand. The Miracle start the season on Thursday, April 7 at 7:05 p.m. The first Thirsty Thursday on the 2016 calendar features half priced domestic draft beers through the seventh inning. The first 500 fans through the gates will receive a pair of Miracle sunglasses courtesy of Snead Eye Group.

On Friday, April 8, the Miracle celebrate the start of the 2016 season with a spectacular postgame fireworks show after a 7:05 p.m. game with the Bradenton Marauders. The Miracle have partnered with local Wendy’s restaurants and MetroPCS locations to provide complimentary general admission tickets for Friday. Fans can visit Wendy’s and MetroPCS locations in Lee and Collier Counties beginning on Thursday, March 31 to pick up free tickets.

Beginning on Monday, April 4 at 9 a.m., fans can bring their complimentary general admission tickets to the Hammond Stadium box office to upgrade to a box seat for just $2. The first 5,000 fans through the gates on Friday will receive a Miracle magnet schedule courtesy of the Florida Forest Service. After the final out is made, the Miracle will light up the sky with a pyrotechnic display.

Inside the gates, fans can partake in a Fill’er Up Friday presented by Budweiser. For a $14 price, you get a wristband good for All You Can Eat hot dogs, hamburgers, homemade potato chips, peanuts, water and lemonade for two hours from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The All You Can Eat wristband also gets you $2 domestic draft beers from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

For more information on Opening Friday Fireworks or the 2016 Miracle season and promotions, call the Miracle offices at 239-768-4210 or visit www.miraclebaseball.com.

Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic returns to Lee County Feb. 26 – March 28

0713leecoSports

Baseball and softball players from around the U.S. will converge in Lee County Feb. 26 through March 28 for the 26th Annual Lee County Parks & Recreation Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic. The event offers men’s and women’s NCAA Division III baseball and softball teams, as well as NAIA softball teams, an opportunity to participate in “spring break” tournaments before their seasons begin. An estimated 500 games will be played with teams primarily from the Midwest and Northeast. Notables include those from Olivet College, Johns Hopkins University, Kenyon College and the College of Wooster. Games are played at CenturyLink Sports Complex, Lee County Player Development Complex, North Collier Regional Park and Terry Park Sports Complex. Admission to the games is free for spectators.

Last year’s Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic drew more than 4,400 sports visitors to Lee County, generating roughly 6,600 hotel room nights and approximately $2.8 million in direct spending.

“Lee County Parks & Recreation’s Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic is an event that offers men’s and women’s NCAA Division III baseball and softball teams an opportunity to participate in regular season games during their respective spring breaks from their cold weather-climate states,” said Dana Kasler, Director of Lee County Parks & Recreation. “Each year, the Cusic draws return visits from former players who come back to Fort Myers to vacation. The weather is good, the level of play is outstanding, and many tourists, snowbirds and residents can find their alma mater from up north on our schedule of play.”

The tournament is named for Gene Cusic of Aurora, Ill., who was a teacher, coach, principal, superintendent and administrator in Illinois schools. He also taught a year in Lima, Peru and served as Principal of the Oxford Summer School for the American Institute for Foreign Study. He retired to Fort Myers in 1988 and joined the Lee County Parks & Recreation staff as the athletic program manager. He established the Collegiate Classic in 1990 with only 11 teams. The event took off and, at one point, boasted 300 teams of men’s baseball and women’s fast-pitch softball. It became so popular that as many teams that signed up were also turned away. Cusic died in 1995, but the event remains a mainstay on Lee County sports calendars.

For the complete game schedule, or for more information, please visit www.LeeGov.com/parks/athletics/cusic.

Lee County Sports Development was created in 2003 to meet the growing demand for sports development in Lee County, and is recognized by the Florida Sports Foundation as one of the state’s 25 Regional Sports Commissions. The Lee County Sports Development office leads the recruitment and implementation of amateur and professional sports events and activities in Lee County, with the goal of providing economic impact to Lee County. Through local partnerships with Lee County Parks & Recreation and others, the Lee County Sports Development office provides services designed to address the needs of local, national and international sports entities including housing, access to venues, event management, transportation assistance, event promotion, marketing and local sponsorship opportunities. For more information, call 239-533-5273 or visit www.leegov.com/sports.

Lee County to host Roy Hobbs 2016 President’s Day Sunshine Classic

0713leecoSports
Roy Hobbs 2 Lee County is hosting the 2016 Roy Hobbs Sunshine Classic at the Lee County Player Development Complex and historic Terry Park. The President’s Day 50+ and 60+ Divisions will take place Feb. 11 through Feb. 15, followed by Family Ties, Veterans 35+ and Masters 45+ Divisions Feb. 18 through Feb. 21.

Nearly 200 players and a dozen teams participate in divisions for the 50-and-over crowd and 60-and-over. Former Heisman Trophy winner and Boston College alum Doug Flutie played second base for the Americans squad in the 50-and-over division, which also featured former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee, who played for the Bahama Breeze in previous Sunshine Classics.

Last year’s tournament generated approximately $400,000 in direct spending for Lee County, including roughly 1,200 hotel room nights and $6,000 in resort tax collections, accordiRoy Hobbs 3ng to Jeff Mielke, executive director of Lee County Sports Development.

“We are very happy to be back in Lee County,” said Tom Giffen, president of Roy Hobbs Baseball. “We appreciate the hospitality in a community that has been incredibly welcoming and provided great venues and professional services from grounds crews to hotels to vendor services.”

Operated by Lee County Parks & Recreation, Lee County’s five county-owned baseball complexes play host to more than 200 days of amateur baseball tournaments a year when they aren’t being used for spring trainRoy Hobbs 1ing games. The estimated economic impact of these events is $50 million annually.

Named after fictional baseball hero Roy Hobbs as depicted in the book, “The Natural,” by Bernard Malmud, the Roy Hobbs Baseball’s annual Sunshine Classic in Fort Myers has expanded to include amateur player divisions for ages 18 and up, with divisions up to ages 75 and older.

Second annual NubAbility #DontNeed2 Florida Camp for kids with limb-loss in partnership with the Minnesota Twins

NubAbility Athletics The NubAbility Athletic Foundation will host the second annual #DontNeed2 Florida Camp in partnership with the Minnesota Twins Jan. 1 through Jan. 2 for children ages 4 to 16 with congenital or traumatic limb-loss involving one or more limbs. NubAbility will hold a STRONG Camp, Jan. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Daily Grind CrossFit Gym in Fort Myers, focusing on adaptive strengthening, conditioning, speed, agility, sport specific workouts, yoga for athletes and P.E. skills, and hosted by Fit Nation Magazine, Daily Grind CrossFit and Ruby and Pearls Yoga. A camp focusing on baseball, softball and soccer will be held Jan. 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, hosted by the Minnesota Twins. The #DontNeed2 Florida Camp is for children who are very mobile and desire to compete in mainstreamed school or league baseball, softball, soccer, track and field. Camp fees are $50 for each day and registration is open online at NubAbility.org.

The #DontNeed2 Florida Camp is led by founder and head coach, Sam Kuhnert, a former one-handed college baseball pitcher and college pitching coach, and his coaching team of accomplished athletes, with limb-loss, who have played at top levels of sport. NubAbility has held various sport camps for adaptive youth athletes for five years. This is its second annual camp in Fort Myers with the Minnesota Twins organization. Hayden Filson-Thompson of Texas, who played college softball, and Ryan Hamner of Orlando, an amputee who played for Rhode Island, will lead the baseball and softball camp. Minnesota Twins head pitching coach coordinator, and former MLB player, Eric Rasmussen, will lend his coaching talent to the event for the second year in a row. One-handed glove transfers, batting grips, stances, fielding, pitching, throwing, catching and base running will be covered for all limb-differences. The more experienced players will benefit from one on one instruction from college and professional coaches.

“I get to work along side my mentor, Eric Rasmussen doing what I love, getting these kids in the game of my passion. That has me pumped!” Kuhnert said.

NubAbility soccer coach Breana McMahon, an amputee, former college player and college and high school coach, who is from Orlando, joined by Lizzie Ridder, former college player, and Mathew “Flowhawk” Hawkins, will lead the soccer camp at a field adjacent to Hammond Stadium. The focus of this camp will be on dribbling, passing and scoring on prosthetic legs and with those of upper limb-loss. How to achieve and maintain balance and agility, defend and goal tending will also be taught at the youth’s level of play.

“If you have NubAbility Soccerbeen coached properly and you work harder than the rest, you will succeed. I am proof.” McMahon said.

Former Paralympic volleyball player and coach, and now adaptive strength expert and trainer, Dave Newkirk of Kansas, will be conducting the STRONG Camp. He will be assisted by Paralympic gold medal hopeful, William Regas Woods and track star Nick Rogers, who will conduct the speed portion of the camp. Adaptive yoga instructor, Heather Holland, of Ruby and Pearl’s Yoga in Fort Myers will lead the group in adaptive yoga for athletes. Heather is the aunt of NubAbility founder, Sam Kuhnert, and has worked with him through the years in his personal training for collegiate baseball. Physical education classes are often more challenging for P.E. teachers than the actual limb-different student. In NubAbility’s P.E. Skills session, NubAbility will instruct the athletes not only how they can achieve success in standard P.E. class skills, such as jumping rope one handed or on prosthetics, but also how to communicate their adaptive abilities to their teachers.

“I have traveled the world competing and coaching mainstreamed and adaptive sport. I know what the opportunity to compete has meant to me and the life lessons I have learned from it. I intend to provide professional instruction in a safe environment for kids who have also experienced life as a limb-different athlete.” Newkirk said.

The #DontNeed2 Florida Camp is designed for growth over the years and to establish a service for kids with limb-loss that desire to compete in mainstreamed sport in the southeast region of the U.S. However, several families are flying in from across the U.S. for this life-changing event that not only prepares the youth athletes for mainstreamed competition, but also encourages courage and confidence in sport and in life. If you know of a child who has a limb-difference, ages 4-17, have them email NubAbility@gmail.com for more information. No child is ever turned away due to financial hardship. Camp fees are $50. However, local sponsors have provided 10 scholarship opportunities. Simply use the coupon code TWINS in the payment portion of the online registration, available on NubAbility.org and in the cover photo of NubAbility’s Facebook page.

About NubAbility

A 501(c)3 nonprofit, NubAbility Athletics holds a large four-day camp in Southern Illinois every July that serves over 135 limb-different youth from across the nation. NubAbility Athletics has over 45 volunteer limb-different athletes as coaches and mentors that coach over 18 different school sanctioned sports. NubAbility also holds one-sport, one-day mini camps across the nation. NubAbility will feature its first multiple day outdoorsman camp outside of Atlanta Georgia in late July with Hunter Cayll, aka Nubs the No Handed Shooter as the Head Coach. Shooting, archery and fishing are all team sports in many schools across the country and NubAbility believes all kids have a right to compete for team spots regardless of the number of limbs they have. The next event scheduled is a #DontNeed2 Bully Proof Camp on Jan. 17 in Madisonville, Kentucky. For more information visit NubAbility Athletics Foundation at http://www.NubAbility.org, www.facebook.com/NubAbility, @NubAbility on Twitter and Instagram and NubAbility Athletics on YouTube.

Free admission, public invited to attend Perfect Game 2015 National Showcase June 17-22, top scouting event for professional baseball

Lee County Sports Development Logo

Major League Baseball to broadcast Saturday, June 20 game from JetBlue Park

Lee County will host the Perfect Game 2015 National Showcase from June 17-22 at the JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. The event is free and open to the public. Perfect Game National Showcase, sponsored by Nike, is one of the premier scouting events for young players in amateur baseball. More than 1,600 players who have attended past events have gone on to be selected in Major League Baseball amateur player drafts.

On Saturday, June 20 at 1 p.m., Major League Baseball’s MLB.com will record the game for broadcast on MLB.com on Sunday, June 21 at 8 p.m. EST.

Lee County anticipates approximately 500 college and professional scouts and the nation’s top professional sports agents to be present during the showcase. The top 50 players at the Perfect Game National Showcase will be selected to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park in San Diego on Aug. 16.

The National Showcase features 320 incoming high school seniors, June 17-22. This event is estimated to generate $725,000 in direct economic impact, $8,910 in resort tax and will fill approximately 1,800 hotel rooms.

“The National Showcase is a great opportunity for fans to come out and watch some of the most talented up-and-coming players in baseball,” said Jeff Mielke, executive director of Lee County Sports Development. “This is one of the most heavily followed tournaments by college coaches and scouts, and players looking for the highest level of exposure. In addition, this event brings a large number of visitors to Lee County and we are excited to see the positive economic impact that the 2015 Showcase will bring.”

Game and practice times vary. For more information, visit Perfect Game at www.perfectgame.org.

About Lee County Sports Development

Created in 2003 to meet the growing demand for sports development in Lee County, the Lee County Sports Development office is recognized by the Florida Sports Foundation as one of the state’s 25 Regional Sports Commissions. The Lee County Sports Development office leads the recruitment and implementation of amateur and professional sports events and activities in Lee County, with the goal of providing economic impact to Lee County. Through local partnerships the Lee County Sports Development office provides services designed to address the needs of local, national and international sports entities including housing, access to venues, event management, transportation assistance, event promotion, marketing and local sponsorship opportunities. For more information, call 239-533-LCSD (5273) or visit www.LeeCountySports.org.