On Thursday, June 19, Mark Emmert, President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), testified in a landmark antitrust lawsuit filed against his organization, and stated the following, "To convert college sports into professional sports would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports. And we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren't very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience."
We respectfully disagree, Dr. Emmert, as the facts are quite simple.
Minor League Baseball has strength in numbers. After nearly a decade of topping more than 41 million game attendees each season, MiLB's foundation is stronger than ever. That number is more than the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS. And as the governing body for all professional baseball teams in the United States, Canada, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic that are affiliated with Major League Baseball clubs through their farm systems, total membership includes 20 leagues and 256 clubs.
Minor League Baseball is family-friendly and affordable. In data gathered from our teams, a family of four can attend a game for around $63. Serving as a place for future Major League Baseball players to develop their talents and families to enjoy a cost-effective sports entertainment experience, Minor League Baseball creates an intimate environment that allows fans and players to make meaningful connections in tightly knit communities across the United States.
Minor League Baseball has fans of all ages. Our sport appeals to the smallest rooters attending their first game to the grandparents holding their hands. From newborns to young adults to retirees, the game and the atmosphere of the ballpark has something special for everyone.
Minor League Baseball is gender equal. With 48% of the total fans base being female, Minor League Baseball is the most gender balanced of all professional sports leagues.
Minor League Baseball gives back to its communities. In 2013, MiLB and its teams contributed approximately $26.6 million in cash, in-kind and fundraising donations to deserving charities and groups. And speaking of communities, our ballparks are often second homes to the citizens of the communities in which they are located. Since 2000, Minor League Baseball has built an impressive 58 new ballparks.
Minor League Baseball is Americana. In small towns and metropolitan cities from coast to coast, you can find Minor League Baseball. It's as much about the emotions it evokes, as it is about the game itself. It's military appreciation nights, fireworks, families gathering together on a warm summer night to see the stars of tomorrow, mascots entertaining kids and adults from ages 1 to 101 and most of all, it's about fun.
So, Dr. Emmert, there's no denying that minor league sports are in fact immensely successful in regard to fan support and fan experience. And Minor League Baseball is thriving as an alternative to other more costly entertainment options. We have the thrills of a theme park, the emotions of a good movie, the element of surprise at a concert and the cuisine of your favorite restaurant, all wrapped up in one event and taking place in 70 ballparks on any given summer night.
Please accept this as an open invitation, Dr. Emmert, join the American people and attend a Minor League Baseball game this summer. See for yourself just how much fan support we have and how the fan experience is like none other in the sports world. There's something special going on at Minor League Baseball parks across this country and there's never been a better time to be a part of it.