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

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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.

2016 Governor’s Baseball Dinner to be held in Lee County

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Governor Rick Scott, Lee County Sports Development and the Florida Sports Foundation kick off the annual Florida Spring Training season at the 2016 Governor’s Baseball Dinner, to be held Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs/Fort Myers.

While Fort Myers and Lee County’s history of hosting spring training baseball dates back to 1925, this is the first time the Governor’s Baseball Dinner has been held in the area.

“The annual Governor’s Baseball Dinner marks the beginning of another exciting Spring Training Baseball season in Florida,” Governor Rick Scott said. “Florida is proud to be the home of fifteen spring training teams, and we look forward to welcoming the families and visitors that this season will bring to our great state.”

Top executives from around the Florida Grapefruit League are expected to attend including Boston Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and Manager John Farrell along with Minnesota Twins Executive Vice President, General Manager Terry Ryan and Manager Paul Molitor.

Individual tickets are available for purchase for $100 or a table of can be purchased for $1,000.  Visit www.floridagrapefruitleague.com to purchase tickets online or call the Lee County Sports Development office at 239-533-5273.

“Lee County is honored to host the Governor’s Baseball Dinner, an annual spring training baseball tradition,” said Jeff Mielke, executive director of Lee County Sports Development. “Lee County’s commitment to the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins continues to be a priority.  With recent construction and renovations to JetBlue Park and the CenturyLink Sports Complex, as well as the commitment from the teams, this community is dedicated to hosting spring training baseball for many years to come.”

The Governor’s Baseball Dinner annually celebrates the opening of the Florida Grapefruit League season in Florida. The State of Florida is a frontrunner in Spring Training Baseball dating back to 1888 when the Washington Senators came south to Jacksonville.

While the current teams, and the hosts for the 2016 event, the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, have been in Lee County for three decades, the area has been hosting Spring Training Baseball since 1925. The Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals have previously called Fort Myers, and historic Terry Park, home.

Over 250,000 fans attended Florida Grapefruit League games last year in Fort Myers and attendance totals should reach that mark again in 2016. In the last 10 years, over 2.5 million baseball fans have gone through the turnstiles at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex, City of Palms Park and JetBlue Park.

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 and 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 239-533-2221 or visit www.leeparks.org.

Lee County Sports Development awarded grants for driving sports visitors to Lee County

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Lee County Sports Development was awarded $65,000 in grant monies from the Florida Sports Foundation to support the organization in hosting amateur sports events that generate significant economic impact for Lee County. A grant for $55,000 was awarded to Lee County for the North American Roller Hockey Championships and a $10,000 grant was awarded for the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic.

More than 200 teams from around the U.S. will converge on Lee County March 1-31, 2014 for the 24th Annual Lee County Parks and Recreation Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic. The event offers men’s and women’s NCAA and NAIA baseball and softball teams an opportunity to participate in “spring break” tournaments before their seasons begin. Games are played at Terry Park, Lee County Sports Complex, Cape Coral’s Northwest complex and the Cape Coral Sports Complex. Last year’s Cusic Classic drew 110 teams and more than 4,000 visitors to Lee County. Lee County Sports Development office anticipates the 2014 event will surpass those numbers.

In July 2014, more than 300 teams will roll into Lee County for the North American Roller Hockey Championships. The event will be held at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla. and will bring an estimated $16 million in economic impact to Lee County.

The grant dollars are awarded quarterly by Florida Sports Foundation to sports commissions to assist communities in attracting and hosting professional and amateur sports events, which generate out-of-state economic impact for the state of Florida. The grants are funded by the sale of Florida’s nine professional sports team license tags available for Florida registered vehicles only. Each year the tag program generates more than $250,000 for local youth charities and supports major and regional sports events throughout Florida’s communities.

“Purchasing a team license plate not only shows your pride for your favorite Florida sports team, but it also supports many deserving youth charities and sports events throughout Florida,” said Jeff Mielke, executive director, Lee County Sports Development. “As we prepare for these annual and successful events, these grant dollars will help us to best serve the thousands of athletes, coaches and their families who will come to Lee County and stay in our hotels, visit our attractions and dine in our local restaurants.”

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 239-344-5201or visit www.leeparks.org.