Orioles Boast $81M Sarasota Impact

Sports

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY FEB 18, 2016

The Baltimore Orioles generated an economic impact of $81 million, according to a study just released by Sarasota County. And officials with the Major League Baseball club say the increasing traffic in terms of tourists from the Baltimore area has proven a valuable asset for the region. “As our year-round activities continue to expand in Sarasota, the Orioles are proud that our $81-million economic impact in the region far exceeds industry and expert projections,” said David Rovine, vice president, Orioles-Sarasota. “The Orioles will continue to drive economic impact locally with an even more robust schedule in the coming years.”

Tourism officials note the number of visitors to the region coming from the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area reached record levels last year; some 26,000 visitors came here from the Mid-Atlantic Region. Rob Wells, director of sports for Visit Sarasota County, credits the presence of spring training for much of that traffic. “We have die-hard Orioles fans who will want to come here for the whole month and go to every game,” he said. But it’s not just fans of the Os that visit Sarasota for baseball. Many spring training enthusiasts will attend games throughout the state, including at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota or at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training home. 

The relationship has also increased marketing opportunities for the region in the Mid-Atlantic. As part of a deal with Sarasota County to headquarter Orioles spring training in Ed Smith Stadium and conduct other operations at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex, the Orioles also provide $1 million worth of display and broadcast advertising, and each year the Orioles host a Sarasota Day at Camden Yards in Baltimore. 

Orioles officials point to the new study as evidence the team has proven to be a net positive for the community, despite criticism when a deal was inked in 2009 for the county to renovate Ed Smith to attract the Orioles here. “At the time, the Orioles and industry analysts estimated that we would deliver approximately $40 million in annual economic impact, yet we had great confidence that our new partnership would produce substantially more than those estimates and ultimately inspire an entirely new and mutually-beneficial Spring Training model,” said John Angelos, Orioles executive vice president.

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