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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

February 1, 2010 at 2:20 PM

FanFest attendance off the charts

fanfest 012.jpg

In case you didn’t see it, here’s a post about the Ryan Garko signing becoming official, and right-handed pitcher Gaby Hernandez being DFA’d to make room on the 40-man roster.

Meanwhile, just a brief word about FanFest, which I attended Sunday as a father, not a journalist. My kids love it, having gone for five or six years in a row. I had the distinct sense that the attendance Sunday was abnormally large, based on the huge lines to get into various events, and the long line at the concession stands. The picture above, which I snapped late in the afternoon — after a lot of people had headed home — shows the hustle and bustle of the day.

Sure enough, attendance figures released by the Mariners confirm my hunch. According to Rebecca Hale, the M’s director of public information, the team drew 17,299 over the weekend, the biggest draw in the 10-year history of the event. The previous record was 15,884 in 2004. Last year, with Seattle coming off 101 losses, the FanFest total attendance was 8,571 total in the two days, meaning they more than doubled that number.

I think that reflects a growing sense of excitement and anticipation for this season, which is also reflected in the tremendous response to our blogs, especially as spring-training reporting date nears. No word yet if that is translating into season-ticket sales for the Mariners, but I’ll try to find out.

Considering the vast wasteland that characterized M’s baseball at the end of the 2008 season, it’s an impressive transformation. The team has become relevant again.

One other thing: The Mariners raised more than $5,000 for the American Red Cross Haitian relief efforts with their memorabilia garage sale at FanFest.

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