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Minor League Baseball Is a Great Family Value

More families are opting out of the great American pastime of attending major league baseball games than ever before. Some are staying home and watching the games on television, but growing numbers of families are flocking to minor league ballparks. Minor league baseball attendance has grown every year, reaching a record high 39 million during the 2005 season. Major league attendance has continued to decline in many markets.

Although many explanations have been offered by Major League Baseball including changing demographics and competition from other sports and entertainment venues, cost is an undeniable factor in lagging attendance. The average cost for a family of four to attend a major league baseball game in 2005 topped $170.00 for tickets, refreshments and souvenirs but not including parking. The cost for that same family to attend a minor league baseball game in 2005 was $80.00, less than half the cost of attending a major league game.

For that price, minor league fans are treated to performances by up-and-coming young stars who may be tomorrow's Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez. Minor league baseball follows the same rules as major league, and most minor league teams are associated with a major league team. Because of this association, minor league fans may occasionally be treated to an appearance by a major league star rehabbing from an injury in the minor leagues. Additionally, in some parts of the country, minor league stadiums play host to major league teams during spring training. Thomas J. White stadium in Port St. Lucie, Florida is the home of the Single A St. Lucie Mets during the regular season, but in the spring it's the New York Mets training facility.

Fans often sit right along the baselines with nothing separating them from players but a railing. Players frequently sign autographs before and after the games. Because of the growing popularity of minor league baseball, teams have been able to build increasingly attractive stadiums with amenities that rival their major league counterparts. Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida was built with the same architecture and amenities as larger stadiums like Baltimore's Camden Yards and Turner Field in Atlanta but offers fans an intimate experience that is not available at the larger parks.

For more casual fans, minor league teams offer entertainment like performances by local music artists, fireworks and special promotions like disco night or Christian night. Some parks, like Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri, have children's play areas near the bullpens and on-field activities for children including running the bases, games and contests.

Kadence Buchanan writes articles on many topics including Baseball, Games, and Recreation