History will be made in Dayton, Ohio on Saturday night when the Dayton Dragons — current Class A affiliate for the Cincinnati Reds — celebrate the 1,000th consecutive sellout at Fifth Third Field.
According to a team press release, the Dragons remarkable streak has spanned every Midwest League game since the franchise moved to Dayton in 2000, including nine playoff games and two all-star games, which in and of itself is historic. The stadium currently holds 7,230 stadium-style fixed seats including 29 luxury suites, three party decks, and additional lawn seating, which pushes the average attendance well over 8,000 fans per game. In fact, the Dragons averaged 8,405 fans per date in 2013, and that number is up to 8,466 in 2014.
For comparison's sake, the Columbus Clippers — Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians — topped all domestic minor league clubs in average attendance at more than 9,200 in 2013. Dayton is doing extremely well given its setup, though both teams are likely aided in some ways by their proximity to the major league clubs. In Dayton's case, it a 55-mile drive, but it's still impressive that they have been able to establish and sustain such a loyal fanbase.
"This is an amazing milestone for this team, our fantastic fans and our great community," said Robert Murphy, Dragons President. "We want to say thank you and congratulations to the very best sports fans in the country. You made this accomplishment happen and you should be very proud that this community has done something that no one has ever done in the history of sports. One thousand consecutive sell outs: Remarkable."
Even more remarkable, the Dragons currently hold the all-time North American record for consecutive sold-out dates and have held it since July 9, 2011 when they passed the NBA Portland Trail Blazers 814-game sellout string from 1977-'95.
Granted, it's not a 20,000 seat NBA arena they're filling up on a nightly basis, but this type of consistent drawing success doesn't happen by accident. It's clear the fans really enjoy the ballpark experience, while also getting to witness the growth of many top Cincinnati prospects. Among those who have passed through over the years: Jay Bruce, Adam Dunn, Edwin Encarnacion, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Todd Frazier and Billy Hamilton. In fact, just last weekend Aroldis Chapman made two appearances with Dayton during his rehab stint, so they're always a team for Reds fans to keep an eye on.
The historic game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Not that it matters to any of us since tickets won't be available. The Dragons plan to unveil a commemorative banner at the end of the fifth inning on Saturday that will be permanently displayed at Fifth Third Field.
Congratulations to the Dragons. Here's to 1,000 more.
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