At Saturday night's 6-2 loss to Bowling Green, the TinCaps surpassed the 3 million mark in all-time attendance at Parkview Field. On Sunday, as they close out the first half of the season, team president Mike Nutter expects another milestone.
"At the end of the day tomorrow, it'll close the books on the biggest first half in our history at Parkview Field by probably 5-6,000 fans," Nutter said, "and I was here plenty of days earlier this year where it was too cold. Two rainouts. And we had a Thirsty Thursday one day, which is a big promotion for us, where during the day we sold 60 tickets. The one two nights ago, the day of the game we sold 2,300. So I am sitting here saying and thinking, 'You know, if we had gotten a little more weather help, (perhaps) this would have been a year that we could have drawn 410,000 or 420,000 fans (for the season as a whole).'
"But we can only control so much. It (the ballpark's lifetime attendance) has exceeded expectations."
There have been nine sellouts this year, and the Single-A TinCaps' average attendance of over 5,500 is better than nearly all Double-A clubs and better than nearly half of Triple-A clubs.
"Beyond that, I could name probably 15 of the top minor league teams around the country that have come here to visit," Nutter said. "A team in the Southeast said, 'We were going to do a major expansion, and people told us before we do that we should go to Fort Wayne, Indiana.' On the front page of the newspaper in Birmingham, Alabama, the mayor was paraphrased as saying, 'If we could just build a ballpark like the one in Fort Wayne, we've got a winner.'
"It's just been wild, and that's so flattering. We're talking about 3 million fans coming through, and there's been so much for non-baseball, too. I think maybe it's cyclical. Somebody comes in here for a wedding reception or Zac Brown or any of these concerts and says, 'Oh, why don't I go to a game there?' We have a hard-working staff. It's really been a privilege to be a part of it."