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Outbreak of Flying Squirrels Is Root Cause of Eastern League Attendance Record

Devon TeepleAnalyst ISeptember 11, 2010

Reports coming out of Richmond announce flying squirrels are dominating the Eastern League.  Because of this, the first-year Richmond Flying Squirrels led the league in attendance with an average of 6,626 fans per game.

The Richmond Flying Squirrels are the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, but that was not always the case.

Last year, there was talk of relocating the Connecticut Defenders. Those rumors came to fruition as the Defenders' ownership group Navigators Baseball LLP, and team President/Managing General Partner Lou DiBella announced the move:

“The return of pro baseball to Richmond is something my ownership group is thrilled to be a part of,” DiBella said.  “Everyone involved in this endeavor has a track record of professionalism and success, and will work tirelessly to be an integral part of the Richmond community and provide a first class baseball experience.”

When it comes down to it, the move to the Diamond appears to have worked.

Baseball is not only alive in Richmond, but throughout all of the Eastern League.

According to MiLB.com, the Eastern League enjoyed its best year ever with a seven percent increase from 2009, nearly breaking the four million fan mark.

Eastern League President James McEacharn shares his sentiments with MiLB.com,

"I am extremely proud of all of our member clubs for breaking the Eastern League total attendance record this season," said Eastern League President Joseph McEacharn. "Breaking this record shows our clubs are doing as good a job as ever in providing our fans with the affordable, family entertainment they know can be found at all of our ballparks."

Proud is a understatement—the record should be enjoyed by all teams involved.

Sure, the Squirrels' arrival might have boosted some ticket sales, providing a growth trend for a few months around the league, but 2010 was a season-long captivation with a league that kept fans for all teams coming back for more, as evidenced by shattered records littering the field all around the EL.

Single season attendance records: Harrisburg Senators and New Britain Rock Cats

Seven millionth fan in franchise history: Trenton Thunder

Four millionth fan: Altoona Curve

Two millionth fan: New Hampshire Fisher Cats

By putting this into perspective, the Eastern League had nearly one million more fans than their Double-A counterpart, Texas League.  The TL that has two fewer teams than the EL, would only surpass them if the Frisco Roughriders and their 544,152 fans tripled.

Congratulations to not only the EL, but to everyone involved.  By producing a quality product and combining that with quality performances on the field, Minor League Baseball will continue to be unrivaled in its popularity and presence in affiliated sport.

This article can be found on The GM's Perspective

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