When the Orioles moved their spring training facilities to Sarasota, Fla., in 2010, officials pointed to the positive effect the franchise would bring to the economy of the Gulf Coast community. It turns out that the annual impact is much greater than anticipated.
According Sarasota County’s analysis of data it has been collecting since 2015, the Orioles have generated more than $360 million in cumulative economic impact since that time. In the most recent reporting period, the club brought $92 million into the local economy, nearly three times the figure projected at the time of the move. Local officials take into account the tourism impact created by the Orioles as well as the club’s business operations and spending in Sarasota County.
And over the years that Orioles players and coaches have been spending February and March in Sarasota, a whole lot more people from the mid-Atlantic have gotten to know the charming town. The number of first-quarter visitors from the region has grown by more than 300 percent since 2009.
The Orioles have actively promoted tourism in Sarasota through media and promotional programs aimed at the team’s fan base in support of Visit Sarasota, and in the first quarter of 2015, the mid-Atlantic was the top source of Sarasota tourism. In 2017, the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., market generated the second-most out-of-state visitors to Sarasota County, surpassed only by the New York City market.
Since the club made its spring home in Sarasota, more than 985,000 have attended Orioles spring training games at Ed Smith Stadium. The Orioles will this year celebrate their “One Millionth Fan” to take in a game at the facility. The team’s record-breaking attendance there has gotten the Birds to that milestone faster than any other franchise in the nearly 100 years Sarasota has hosted spring training for big league ballclubs.
The Ed Smith Stadium complex also hosts youth tournaments, baseball clinics and sports leagues, as well as charitable events and the performances staged for the Arts in the Ballpark series. The franchise has donated more than $3.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions to the Sarasota community since it arrived in 2010.
“The entire Orioles organization takes pride in providing the greatest economic impact to the Sarasota community of any sports organization in history,” Orioles executive vice president John Angelos said. “We remain steadfast in 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.”