If you make the trip down south for spring training and drive around downtown Sarasota, Fla,, you would wonder if you ever left Baltimore.
The lamp posts that line the sidewalks down Main Street are draped in Birdland banners and the people walking around are dressed in orange and black. If you head over to the Ed Smith Stadium complex, you’ll find Orioles fans lined up at the crack of dawn to catch a glimpse of their favorite players.
The Orioles have made quite the little community in Sarastoa, their spring home since 2010. And aside from expanding their fan base, the organization has made a huge economic impact in the greater Sarasota community. The team’s unique tourism creation, marketing initiatives and year-round sports, culture and family recreational events have been credited for record-breaking economic impact results in Sarasota County.
The economic impact of the Orioles in Sarasota continued to grow from year to year to approximately $97 million, according to an independent economic impact analysis commissioned by the Sarasota County government. The annual economic impact delivered to taxpayers and residents results from the club’s marketing and promotion of Sarasota tourism to its fan base across seven mid-Atlantic states, combined with the commercial activity and corporate presence of the Orioles’ athletic training headquarters, production of public sporting and other entertainment events, and management of youth sports tournaments and recreational programs.
The Orioles’ $97 million economic output set a record for sports tourism creation in Sarasota County, far surpassing any current or past sports facility or private sports operator. In fact, the Orioles’ annual economic impact result has grown every year it has been measured by the annual study. The O’s current impact is nearly three times the $35 million impact the Orioles projected in testimony given before the Florida State Senate in 2004 and the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners in 2009, right before the club relocated their year-round training headquarters to Sarasota.
“The entire Orioles organization takes pride in today’s announcement by state and county government recognizing our company’s creation in a single year of $97 million in economic impact benefiting local taxpayers,” said Orioles executive vice president and MASN president John Angelos in a statement. “As Sarasota County’s pre-eminent sports tourism generator, the club has created more than $500 million and counting in public return on investment during just the first eight years of our training facility’s operation, and our commitment to producing year-round major and minor league baseball games, world class arts and cultural events, and year-round youth training and family recreational programming in the Sarasota community remains unwavering.”
The analysis, conducted by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc., measured the total tourism impact created by the Orioles and its positive impact on the residents and taxpayers of Sarasota County. The ballclub generates quantitative economic impact through:
* Year-round professional event management, including production of Major League Baseball games, commerce, training, and rehabilitation during spring training and year-round
* Year-round production of minor league games, commerce and training throughout the spring, summer and fall months, including presentation at Ed Smith Stadium of the home schedule of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles, along with minor league training throughout the year
* Presentation of a series of arts, culture and community events and programming, including the Orioles’ “Arts in the Ballpark” series featuring the Sarasota Orchestra, “Nashville’s Music Row Comes to the Ballpark” fundraising weekend and youth baseball tournaments held for tens of thousands of tourists and locally based families
* Sarasota 365 marketing and promotion campaign executed by the Orioles to benefit Sarasota County’s “Visit Sarasota” tourism agency and employing Orioles multimedia television, digital, social media and radio platforms, as well as at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, driving fans based in the mid-Atlantic to vacation in, invest in and retire to Sarasota County
The Orioles’ results have been bolstered by record attendance at spring training games over the last few seasons. Last spring, the Orioles drew 119,742 fans for 17 home games in Sarasota, marking the second-highest spring attendance in club history behind only the 120,455 total set in 2013. Last year’s attendance was also more than double the average spring training attendance at Ed Smith Stadium prior to the Orioles’ arrival in Sarasota.
“This is a testament to what a great public-private partnership, like the one Sarasota enjoys with the Baltimore Orioles, can bring to a community,” said Kevin Cooper, president and CEO of The Greater Sarastoa Chamber of Commerce. “The value of that partnership, however, does not end at the economic impact we can calculate. Major League Baseball is a part of the fabric of Sarasota County - it maintains an incalculable value as a part of our identity and community pride.”
As a result of the unique and valuable tourism-focused media and promotional programs pioneered by the Orioles to support Visit Sarasota, the number of yearly first-quarter visitors from the mid-Atlantic region has grown by more than 300 percent since 2009. In the first quarter of 2015, the Orioles were credited by Sarasota travel authorities for making history in yet another way, when the club’s Sarasota 365 campaign catapulted the Orioles’ mid-Atlantic region to become the leading source of Sarasota tourism. In 2017, the Baltimore-Washington market generated the second-most out-of-state visitors to Sarasota County, surpassed by only the New York City market.
“Thanks to the multi-platform, widespread marketing partnership that the Orioles provide Visit Sarasota, the Baltimore-Washington area was once again the second highest source of out-of-state visitors for Sarasota in 2017,” said president of Visit Sarasota Virginia Haley.
Since the Orioles moved their big league spring training operations to Sarasota in 2010, more than 885,000 fans have enjoyed Orioles spring training games at Ed Smith Stadium. Additionally, each year more than 27,000 participants and spectators visit the Orioles complex to participate in youth tournaments, baseball clinics, sports leagues and other family-friendly and charitable events, which are professionally managed, supported and frequently financially subsidized by the Orioles.
Check out the infographic below for additional details about the year-round impact of the Orioles’ Sarasota 365 initiatives through which the Orioles, MASN and OriolesREACH demonstrate the ballclub’s 365-days-a-year engagement with the greater Sarasota community.
For more information on the Orioles’ year-round activities at Ed Smith Stadium and the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex, visit www.orioles.com/sarasota.