By Betsy Dolan
In the first three months of the Sugar Land Skeeters franchise at Constellation Field, a quarter of a million people have bought tickets to see the games, a figure that has already put the first year team in the top three for attendance among all independent and minor league baseball teams in Texas this year and in the top 25 nationally.
City administrators presented a progress report on Constellation Field’s first three months to the City Council on July 17. The report detailed the history of the $36 million dollar stadium and the impact it has had on the community since Opening Day on April 26.
Initial attendance projections back in 2010, were for 300,000 people to attend events at the stadium every year. Regina Morales, Director of Economic Development, told the council that the Skeeters have seen almost that amount just since Opening Day and the numbers only factor in baseball attendance not other events that have been held at the stadium. On average, the Skeeters have sold 6,751 tickets per game. Only the Round Rock Express and the Frisco Roughriders, the Triple A and Double A affiliates of the Texas Rangers, have had more tickets sold this year than Sugar Land, the only independent team in the top six.
“What is not stated here is ‘what is the actual occupied seats?’, Morales said. “And that kind of data comes after a season is finished and then they run those statistics and rankings. For independents and Triple A, actual occupied attendance run at 68% so we predict or numbers will be a little higher than that.”
Assistant City Manager, Steve Griffith, told the council that the design of Constellation Field “has lived up to what it was billed to be” noting that initial concerns about quality of life impacts like noise, traffic and public safety have not come to fruition. Griffith cited two public safety issues in the last three months, one involving lost property and one involving teenagers who smuggled alcohol into the ballpark. Griffith did acknowledge that some work needs to be done in regard to fireworks and establishing some curfews to make sure that nearby neighborhoods are not inconvenienced.
The stadium, which was built using a portion of sales tax revenues that may only be used for economic development purposes, was purposefully designed to be of Triple A caliber. A cost-benefit analysis performed by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International conservatively estimates the project will generate $169 million over 30 years. The sales tax impact, Morales said, will not be known for a few months but noted that development around the ballpark has not yet started but will impact the tax revenue once it does.
“Due to the success of the naming rights, suite and ticket sales, we expect substantial participation rent from the Skeeters after the first of the year in 2013, after the receipts are in and after the numbers have been calculated,” Morales said.
Sugar Land Skeeters President, Matt O’Brien, told the council that non game event business is “staggering” and he predicts that the team will be adding 6 additional full-time staff members to accommodate the growth.