2016 marked the end of the Astros' 32-season spring training era at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee.
The spring training landscape remained the same in 2016 as it was in 2015, so there were no new ballparks or team relocations in Arizona or Florida to remember the season by.
Instead, the Cubs continued their record-breaking trend at Sloan Park in Mesa, where the ballpark in its 3rd year made it 3-for-3 in setting all-time attendance records for full season (226,163), per game average (15,078), and largest individual game crowd at a spring training-specific ballpark, with that number being the 15,523 that bought tickets to a Cubs-Royals game on March 20.
Large enough crowds flocked to ballparks everywhere in Arizona and Florida that 3,443,920 tickets were collectively sold to the 453 games that were played in 26 venues in the two states. The average attendance for a spring training game in 2016 was 7,602, which was an increase of 105 over the 2015 average.
In the Cactus League, 232 games were played by 15 teams in 11 ballparks. Total attendance was 1,919,752, an average of 8,275 per game. Not a single game was rained out, which was the first time since 2009 that no games in Arizona were canceled due to weather. Among all the games that were played, two of them were held at the Diamondbacks' regular season home, Chase Field, and they contributed 29,190 fans to the 2016 Cactus League total, which also included 6,412 from the two exhibition games that college teams played against MLB clubs.
In the Grapefruit League, 221 games were played by 15 teams in 15 ballparks. Total attendance was 1,524,168, an average of 6,897 per game. There were 15 rainouts. The Marlins played a pair of official spring training games at their regular season ballpark in Miami and the two games drew 26,318, while another 24,708 were added to the final tally in Florida as that's how many tickets were sold to watch Major League squads take on collegiate/non-MLB teams in exhibitions at five spring training stadiums.
If strictly including only games played between the 30 MLB teams at the 24 spring training ballparks, then the combined total of fans to watch those 441 Cactus and Grapefruit League games was 3,383,610, with the per game average crowd for them 7,673. The Cactus League average was 8,264 (1,884,150 tickets sold to 228 games) and the Grapefruit League average was 7,040 (1,499,460 fans and 213 games).
Two ballparks drew spring training fans for the final time in 2016, when Osceola County Stadium (Astros) and Space Coast Stadium (Nationals) had their swan song seasons. The stadiums' two inhabitants are moving to West Palm Beach to share a new state-of-the-art complex there in 2017, a move that marks the end of the Astros' tenure in Kissimmee, where they have trained since 1985, and the Nationals' time in Viera, the only location in which Washington's current franchise has ever trained, as the Nats took over the Expos' lease at Space Coast Stadium when Canada's original franchise moved to the United States' capital city.
2016 Attendance Rankings
(home games only, ranked by per game average)
At the conclusion of 2016, Graham Knight had been to spring training in Florida 18 times and had made 7 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, in the past Knight also published the Arizona Spring Training Ballpark Guide and released a Florida edition for fans wanting the full lowdown on Grapefruit League ballparks.