Tebow boosting Mets affiliate's attendance by over 30 percent

by
Joshua S. Kelly / USA TODAY Sports

Tebow Time isn't over.

Though talk regarding Tim Tebow, perhaps America's most famous minor leaguer at the moment, may have seemed to die down, the former NFL quarterback is still drawing quite the crowd for the New York Mets' Single-A affiliate.

Compared to this time last season, the Columbia Fireflies' attendance has increased by more than 30 percent, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell. That impact is comparable to when NBA legend Michael Jordan played for the Double-A Birmingham Barons in 1994.

The Fireflies aren't the only minor-league side benefiting from Tebow's presence. The Lakewood BlueClaws, whom the Fireflies played in a four-game set this past weekend, saw nearly twice as many fans as usual show up to watch Tebow on Saturday - 8,180, as compared to their average attendance of 4,848.

Tebow's such a draw on the road that Columbia's opponents in the South Atlantic League stand to make an additional $3.1 million if he stays in the SAL for the whole season, Baseball America's J.J. Cooper calculated.

"He's a celebrity, and he's a brand," Jim McNamara, BlueClaws director of ticket sales, told Rovell. "People from all walks of life know who he is. He markets himself to sports fans, families, and has a religious following. Plus, the casual fan into pop culture is interested in him."

The 29-year-old is slashing .221/.307/.327 in 113 at-bats this season, good enough to get the Mets to reportedly discuss a minor-league promotion, though it apparently wouldn't happen until after the All-Star break.