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The Tim Tebow Effect, Year Two

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As part of Baseball America’s annual Minor League Survey, we asked executives around the sport a simple question: Will Tim Tebow be the biggest promotion in minor league baseball in 2018? The answer: A resounding yes.

After all, Tebow dominated the minor leagues in 2017, when a whopping 4 million  fans came to ballparks in the South Atlantic and Florida State Leagues to watch the first season of his return to baseball after a decade-long absence.

General managers in both leagues anxiously checked their calendars to make sure Tebow would make a stop in their stadium. With the cost of tickets and concessions, GMs estimated that each fan through the gates was worth an extra $22 in their cash registers.

That extra boost was especially helpful in the FSL, where nightly crowds are usually counted in the hundreds.

So, how’s the sequel going? Well, it’s complicated. Through games of May 13, Tebow’s team, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, are averaging 2,168 fans per game at NYSEG stadium. Unfortunately, that average still places them last in the Eastern League, just eight fans per game behind the Erie SeaWolves.

If those standings hold, it would mark the ninth year in a row (not counting 2016, when Hartford played all year without a home stadium) since 2009 that Binghamton has finished in last place. And even that attendance is largely buoyed by the 5,947 fans who came to Binghamton on opening night.

Without that game, the Ponies’ average drops to 1,931 fans per night. Nine of Binghamton’s 13 games since opening day have drawn crowds below the team’s season average. It’s also worth noting that the average game-time temperature so far in Binghamton has been roughly 51 degrees, including five games at 40 degrees or colder. As the weather warms up, perhaps more fans will come out to the park.

Road games are a different story. Just as was the case in 2017, visiting teams have found Tebow to be a boon for attendance. Over 17 games, 83,923 fans have welcomed the former Heisman Trophy winner to their city. Thirteen of those games featured crowds above the team’s season average, and Portland welcomed Tebow to town with back-to-back sellouts at Hadlock Field and sold out another game during their recent four-day, five-game series with the Rumble Ponies

Overall, Tebow’s road games have averaged 4,937 fans, more than double the average crowd size at his home games. 

The SeaDogs have been by far the biggest beneficiaries of the Tebow boost. Bad weather in the Northeast has limited them to just 11 openings and forced six postponements. But because of Tebow and the Rumble Ponies, the team’s attendance hasn’t taken a huge hit.

mets-900x6351

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The 14,736 fans who came out for Portland’s two games against Binghamton represent nearly half of the 30,032 fans they’ve drawn all year. More than that, those two games have powered them to third place in the league in average attendance, behind Richmond and Hartford.

Breaking that down monetarily, using their average attendance and the $22 per fan estimate, Portland’s six rainouts cost the team $566,280. The two Tebow games, however, which each drew 3,078 more fans than their average, put an extra $135,432 back in the cash register.

Overall, using the same $22 per game figure, Tebow’s road show has been worth an extra $326,898 for Binghamton’s opponents on the road.

It’s early, but year two of Tim Tebow has proved to be more of a boon for road teams than he has for his home team. 

The Tebow Effect, Year Two
DateOpponentHome or AwayAttendanceTebow in lineupRelative to AverageGame time weather
4/13/18PortlandAway7368Yes307853
4/14/18PortlandAway7368Yes307844
4/17/18New HampshireAway3328Yes-31645
4/18/18New HampshireAway3060Yes-58451
4/19/18New HampshireAway5082Yes143835
4/27/18ErieAway4736Yes310861
4/28/18ErieAway2380Yes75239
4/29/18ErieAway2555No92743
4/30/18AkronAway4175Yes72768
5/1/18AkronAway4320Yes87281
5/2/18AkronAway3027Yes-42182
5/7/18HartfordAway6757Yes166172
5/8/18HartfordAway6654Yes155871
5/10/18PortlandAway4182Yes-64954
5/11/18PortlandAway6725Yes189460
5/12/18PortlandAway7368Yes253753
5/13/18PortlandAway4838Yes754
 Total 83,923
DateOpponentHome or AwayAttendanceTebow in lineupRelative to AverageGame time weather
4/5/18PortlandHome5947Yes377935
4/7/18PortlandHome2112Yes-5633
4/8/18PortlandHome1776No-39232
4/9/18AkronHome1022Yes-114641
4/10/18AkronHome904Yes-126439
4/11/18AkronHome910Yes-125845
4/20/18ErieHome2341Yes17340
4/21/18ErieHome2192Yes2457
4/22/18ErieHome3051No88359
4/23/18New HampshireHome1867Yes-30170
4/24/18New HampshireHome1430Yes-73863
4/25/18New HampshireHome1792Yes-37657
5/3/18New HampshireHome1450Yes-71868
5/5/18New HampshireHome4257Yes208970
 Total 31051

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