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The Tim Tebow Effect, Year Two



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.

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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
Date Opponent Home or Away Attendance Tebow in lineup Relative to Average Game time weather
4/13/18 Portland Away 7368 Yes 3078 53
4/14/18 Portland Away 7368 Yes 3078 44
4/17/18 New Hampshire Away 3328 Yes -316 45
4/18/18 New Hampshire Away 3060 Yes -584 51
4/19/18 New Hampshire Away 5082 Yes 1438 35
4/27/18 Erie Away 4736 Yes 3108 61
4/28/18 Erie Away 2380 Yes 752 39
4/29/18 Erie Away 2555 No 927 43
4/30/18 Akron Away 4175 Yes 727 68
5/1/18 Akron Away 4320 Yes 872 81
5/2/18 Akron Away 3027 Yes -421 82
5/7/18 Hartford Away 6757 Yes 1661 72
5/8/18 Hartford Away 6654 Yes 1558 71
5/10/18 Portland Away 4182 Yes -649 54
5/11/18 Portland Away 6725 Yes 1894 60
5/12/18 Portland Away 7368 Yes 2537 53
5/13/18 Portland Away 4838 Yes 7 54
 Total     83,923      
Date Opponent Home or Away Attendance Tebow in lineup Relative to Average Game time weather
4/5/18 Portland Home 5947 Yes 3779 35
4/7/18 Portland Home 2112 Yes -56 33
4/8/18 Portland Home 1776 No -392 32
4/9/18 Akron Home 1022 Yes -1146 41
4/10/18 Akron Home 904 Yes -1264 39
4/11/18 Akron Home 910 Yes -1258 45
4/20/18 Erie Home 2341 Yes 173 40
4/21/18 Erie Home 2192 Yes 24 57
4/22/18 Erie Home 3051 No 883 59
4/23/18 New Hampshire Home 1867 Yes -301 70
4/24/18 New Hampshire Home 1430 Yes -738 63
4/25/18 New Hampshire Home 1792 Yes -376 57
5/3/18 New Hampshire Home 1450 Yes -718 68
5/5/18 New Hampshire Home 4257 Yes 2089 70
 Total     31051      

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