Worcester, MA: Fresh off another deep playoff run that took the Bravehearts to the Futures League Championship Series for a 4th consecutive year, the team has once again been recognized by Ballpark Digest (www.ballparkdigest.com) among the top ten in the country based on average and total attendance in the 2017 season. The Worcester Bravehearts drew 65,957 fans in 28 openings this summer averaging 2,356 fans per game.
In their 2017 Summer Collegiate Attendance by Average rankings published Monday, Ballpark Digest ranks Worcester’s 2,356 average attendance 7th in the country in a group of 153 summer collegiate franchises who report their ticket sales nightly. Worcester’s total attendance of 65,957 also ranked eighth in the nation. The Bravehearts are ranked #1 in attendance among New England teams.
The Bravehearts’ attendance numbers represent a 6% jump over 2016, when the team totaled 62,434 fans and averaged 2,230 per opening in the 3,000-seat Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field. The numbers do not include two playoff games that totaled 4,732 tickets sold in the second week of August.
“This is the culmination of a process that began in October, 2016 and really took flight in the first week of January this year,” said General Manager Dave Peterson. “With guidance from some of the best people in the sports industry, our organization invested in additional front office staff members and trained them in the middle of winter. We attracted more schools, religious centers, and youth sports organizations for fun field trips to the ballpark this summer. Combined with the incredible support from our amazing season ticket holders and individual buyers, the people of Worcester County really made this an exceptional year to be a Braveheart.”
Since joining the league in 2014 when the team averaged 1,749 fans per game, the Bravehearts have increased their average nightly attendance each season. After their inaugural season, the Bravehearts subsequently averaged 2,107 (2015), 2,230 (2016) and now 2,356 (2017) fans per game while setting individual game attendance records along the way. This year’s highlights included the team’s single-best opening day crowd in history— 4,035 fans on Friday, June 2nd; a Military Appreciation Night on July 28th that drew 4,034 fans; and two morning field trip days for local schools on June 7th & 8th that collectively drew over 5,800 students to the ballpark. In all, the team had eight sellouts during the summer and only canceled one game due to rain.
Team owner, John Creedon, Jr. stated, “As important as the quality of baseball is for the Bravehearts organization, we also focus immensely on the fan experience and filling the stadium. We are very proud to have experienced year-over-year growth since our inception. None of this is possible without the fabulous families of Central Massachusetts and our outstanding supporters embracing the Worcester Bravehearts as their hometown team. Every single day we strive to make the Bravehearts organization the team that the community of Worcester deserves.”
Nationally, the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League and the Savannah Bananas of the Coastal Plains League are the pacesetters, averaging 6,308 and 4,173 fans per game, respectively. The Bravehearts’ front office traveled to Madison, WI in July, 2015 to observe two Mallards games for themselves and to share best practices with the Mallards’ ownership and leadership. The Bravehearts’ often credit the trip as their impetus to develop new ticket packages and promotional ideas that have helped to consistently increase attendance.
Other Futures League teams of note in the national attendance rankings include the Pittsfield Suns (#23) with 1,559 fans nightly; the 2017 League Champion Nashua Silver Knights, who grew their attendance 9% in 2017 to 1,460 per game— good for 27th in the country; and the Brockton Rox averaging 1,432 per game in the 28th spot nationally.