Spring Training Attendance Down - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Spring Training Attendance Down

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By Al Pefley email

Jupiter, FL (WFLX)

It's that special time of year in south Florida that only lasts for few short weeks.  Major league baseball spring training. The latest attendance figures have just been released. And for the first week of spring training, this year unfortunately, it's a whole new ballgame.

Welcome to spring training 2009. 

Attendance is down. The average crowd for a spring training game so far this year in Jupiter is only 3600 in a stadium that can hold 7000 fans.

"Yes we are disappointed. But you know it's the economy as well. We have a great schedule, and I still think that the crux of our schedule is a couple of weeks away," said Joe Pinto, manager of Roger Dean Stadium.

Here's a look at the numbers.  First week attendance at Florida Marlins spring training games is down 19% compared to last year.   St. Louis Cardinals down 20%.    New York  Mets attendance in Port St. Lucie is off by 15%.

Just too many empty seats.

Doug May and his wife came down from St. Louis to see a couple of games, even though he was just laid off in December from his job at a steel mill  and hasn't found a new job yet.

"I just decided it was worth taking the chance you know. Spending money that I probably should save for something a little more important.  But this is a lifetime opportunity for me," May said.   His wife still had a job. 

Michael and Carrie Boland  and their 19 month old  daughter Isabella  also came from St. Louis to watch the Cardinals. They both still have jobs and say they're not gonna let the uncertain economy keep them from taking a south Florida vacation to see some baseball.

"We didn't worry about it. We had the money saved.  We were able to re-book our hotel last week and got a cheaper rate and the flights were less expensive as well. So we took advantage of an opportunity," Carrie Boland said.    Pinto remains hopeful.  He says they still have several games this month that should draw large crowds, when the Braves, Phillies and Red Sox visit Jupiter.

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