In 2012, the Red Sox moved into brand new JetBlue Park, which was very much modeled after Fenway Park.
For the first time in eight years a new spring training ballpark was built in Florida, as a taste of Fenway Park came South with the debut of JetBlue Park, the Boston-inspired ballpark in Fort Myers. Featuring a Green Monster and the same field dimensions as Fenway, JetBlue Park's 2012 opening was a crowd drawing success as the Red Sox easily set their total, average and single-game spring training attendance records in what became the Grapefruit League's second biggest ballpark, which replaced what was previously the Florida circuit's seventh largest stadium, City of Palms Park, which became the 7th of its kind to be abandoned and remain unused (by MLB teams) in the Sunshine State in the previous 10 years.
While the Red Sox were drawing big crowds to JetBlue Park, the Dodgers hosted the largest ever crowd in a spring training ballpark -- 13,655 -- for their March 17 game against the Giants at Glendale's Camelback Ranch. The new record bested the old one, set in 2010 at the Peoria Sports Complex, by 26 fans.
Overall, 465 sanctioned spring training games were played in Arizona and Florida in 27 ballparks and a total of 3,360,742 fans paid to see them.
In the Cactus League, 232 games were played by 15 teams in 12 ballparks. Total attendance was 1,739,675, an average of 7,499 per game. Three games were rained out, all on March 18. Three of the league's games were played at Tucson's Kino Stadium, and they drew 22,981 fans to the former spring training home of the Diamondbacks and White Sox. The Diamondbacks' current regular season home, Chase Field, also hosted two games, contributing 27,593 fans to the 2012 Cactus League total.
In the Grapefruit League, 233 games were played by 15 teams in 15 ballparks. Total attendance was 1,621,067, an average of 6,957 per game. Just three games were rained out, all of them on March 11. There were two official spring training games played at the majors' newest ballpark in Miami, and the pair of Marlins-Yankees exhibitions drew 57,005 to Marlins Park. Additionally, another 36,782 paid to watch seven games that were played by Major League clubs against collegiate or non-MLB teams.
The average attendance for a spring training game in 2012 was 7,227, which was up 506 fans per game from 2011, when 474 games drew a total of 3,185,569 fans to Cactus and Grapefruit League ballparks.
The 2012 spring training season ended a four-year run of substantial franchise relocation, as nine teams changed their spring training sites from 2009-2012. In 2013, every team stayed put and no new ballparks opened, which had a lot to do with that stability.
2012 Attendance Rankings
(home games only, ranked by per game average)
Graham Knight has been to spring training in Florida 13 times and has made 5 visits to Arizona for the same purpose. In 2009, he completed the hard to complete task of seeing a game in each of the 26 spring training ballparks in use that year by Cactus and Grapefruit League teams. He has seen multiple games in every current spring training ballpark and has visited the practice complexes used by each team. In addition to the ballpark guides he has written for this Web site, Knight has published the Arizona Spring Training Ballpark Guide since 2010 and released the debut of the Florida edition prior to the 2012 spring training season.