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Grapefruit League attendance tops 1.4 million
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Updated: 04/09/2014 08:00:02AM

Grapefruit League attendance tops 1.4 million

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Detroit Tigers' Torii Hunter, right, is congratulated by teammate Miguel Cabrera on his solo home run off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain throws against the Baltimore Orioles in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Friday, April 4, 2014. Detroit won 10-4. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Detroit Tigers' Ian Kinsler bats against the Kansas City Royals in the eighth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Wednesday, April 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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Major League Baseball Spring Training continues to be a fan favorite at Florida’s 14 locations as average per game attendance increased 4 percent from 2013 for an average of 6,882 per game.

The average per game total narrowly missed the all-time record of 6,965 per game in 2012, when two games between the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees were played in the inaugural games in Marlins Park. In 211 total games, 1,452,114 fans passed through the turnstiles.

The total attendance figure was compiled by the Florida Sports Foundation, a division of Enterprise Florida Inc., from daily box scores and confirmed by each of the 15 teams in the Florida Grapefruit League. Only games played in Florida between Major League teams were included in the total. Exhibition games against college teams are not included in the final totals.

2014 Highlights:

• The largest crowd of the season was on Friday, March 21 when the Philadelphia Phillies hosted the Boston Red Sox, before 11,210 fans at Bright House Field in Clearwater.

• Four teams, Detroit Tigers (Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland), the Boston Red Sox (Jet Blue Park, Fort Myers), Pittsburgh Pirates (McKechnie Field, Bradenton) and Washington Nationals (Space Coast Stadium) set new average per game attendance records.

• The Pittsburgh Pirates experienced an increase of 17 percent in average per game attendance jumping from 6,229 per game in 2013 to 7,587 per game in 2014. This increase is primarily due to renovations to McKechnie Field in Bradenton which added outfield bleacher seating and an outfield boardwalk. The Pirates established a new attendance record with a crowd of 8,566 against the Philadelphia Phillies, on Saturday, March 22.

• On Sunday, March 23, a total of 69,097 fans attended eight games statewide for an average attendance of 8,637 per game. It was the highest daily total for an eight-game schedule of games.

• The Tampa Bay Rays drew a total of 7,852 to their March 16 game against the Boston Red Sox, the highest attendance since the Rays moved to Charlotte County Stadium in 2009. The March 16 total surpassed the previous high of 7,834, against the New York Yankees in 2010.

The 2014 season celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Spring Training Baseball in Pinellas County, the birthplace of Florida Spring Training as we know it today. It was 1914 when Al Lang brought the St. Louis Browns to St. Petersburg, for pre-season workouts, opening the door for more teams to follow.

Since that time, the “off season” workouts have become an economic benefit to the state as Florida Spring Training Baseball provides the State of Florida a $753 million economic impact each year. The total was determined by an economic impact survey, compiled during the 2009 season, by Bonn Marketing Research Group of Tallahassee.

Since the 2000 season, a total of 23,464,074 fans have attended Spring Training Baseball games in the State of Florida.

For information about the Florida Grapefruit League and spring training baseball in the Sunshine State, please visit www.floridagrapefruit

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