SAL Benefits From Tebow Effect

South Atlantic League attendance increased by 92 percent when Tim Tebow came to town in April (Photo by Tom Priddy)

As a baseball player, Tim Tebow draws plenty of skepticism. But general managers around the low Class A South Atlantic League have no doubts about his ability to bring people to the park. The Tebow effect is real, and when it comes to attendance, it's spectacular.

Opponent Tebow Non-Tebow Difference
Augusta 4,819 2,647 82%
Rome 4,635 2,593 79%
Hickory 4,375 1,988 120%
Overall 4,607 2,399 92%

In the first month of the season, Tebow's Columbia Fireflies played in front of an average of 4,856 fans every time they took the field.

Columbia has obviously been the biggest beneficiary of the Tebow effect. The Fireflies led the SAL with an average of 5,103 fans per game, which was the second-highest in Class A. That's 1,400 fans per game more than the team averaged over the same stretch last year when the Fireflies were opening a new park after relocating from Savannah, Ga.

But to better understand the Tebow effect on attendance, we looked at Columbia's road games. When Columbia hit the road in the first month of the season, they played in front of an average of 4,607 fans. When those same teams hosted non-Tebow teams, they averaged 2,399 fans.

Based on the April attendance data, the Tebow effect appears to be roughly 2,210 fans per night. Minor league teams estimate that the average fan will spend $20 per person if they come to the ballpark. That counts ticket sales, concessions and souvenirs. So Tebow is worth roughly an additional $44,200 per night.

If Tebow remains in the SAL all season, that would mean an additional $3.1 million in revenue over the course of 70 Columbia road games. That doesn't even count the revenue he generates for Columbia.

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