Spring training is not what it used to be. Time was when teams holed up in Cuba or on Catalina Island and had a camp full of inter-squad games and, like, throwing medicine balls at one another. The modern spring training seasons with a full slate of scheduled games is relatively new. The more modern model of doing that in palatial, high-capacity ballparks is even newer.
All of which is to say, get used to a lot more press releases like this every April:
Major League Baseball set a new Spring Training attendance record with 4,034,708 fans attending games over 481 dates for an average of 8,388 per game, it was announced today.
The 2015 total eclipsed the previous record of 3,823,479 set in 2013, while the average attendance of 8,388 eclipsed the previous best of 8,078 in 2014. Total Spring Training attendance showed an 11.7 percent increase over last season’s total of 3,610,738, and the record-setting average reflected a 3.8 percent increase over last year.
The giant new park for the Cubs in Mesa had a lot to do with this. They drew 222,415 fans to Sloan Park, which is the largest single spring training attendance total for any team in history. They’d get over 15,000 a game sometimes. It was kind of nuts.
Spring training is a big business now, my friends. And only getting bigger.