WALLA WALLA - The Walla Walla Sweets finished their inaugural season atop the West Coast League standings for attendance figures, but also made a dent on the national stage. Ballpark Business, a website devoted to news and information for those interested in the business-side of baseball franchise operations, has released its final attendance rankings for the 2010 collegiate wood-bat league season and the Sweets finished the year with the 23rd highest average attendance in the nation, averaging 1,451 fans per game.
"This one is a tribute to our fans," said Zachary Fraser, Sweets general manager. "This is a ranking that the Walla Walla community can take pride in. Many teams in the country never break into the top 50. Sweets' fans broke into the top 25 in our first season."
The ranking is the highest for a West Coast League team, but others were not far behind. The Bend Elks moved up two spots from their 2009 ranking to No. 25 with 1,327 fans, while the two-time defending West Coast League champion Wenatche AppleSox were at No. 29 with 1,301 fans.
In addition to being the best-attended team in the WCL in 2010, the Sweets' mark set a new overall attendance record for the league that will begin its seventh season in 2011.
The Sweets were the best attended first-year team in the country, followed closely by the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters of the Northwoods League at No. 24 with 1,368 fans.
The Cowlitz Black Bears, the Sweets' fellow expansion team in the West Coast League, didn't miss the top 50 by much, finishing the season with an average attendance of 929 fans.
The top two rankings both went to Northwoods League teams. The Madison Mallards far outdrew their closest competition with 5,884 fans, while the LaCrosse Loggers drew 3,174 fans.
"The Mallards are a well-run organization in a city that is capable of supporting a Double or Triple A ballclub, so to be in the same conversation as them is a tremendous compliment," Fraser added. "To draw this many fans to every game is amazing and we'll only try to improve these numbers, but the ultimate goal for us is the fan experience. We want every single fan in our ballpark to leave satisfied, whether it 1,400 fans or 4,000."