Though former Florida QB Tim Tebow is only hitting .227 with two home runs and 11 RBI for the Columbia Fireflies — the Class A affiliate of the New York Mets — this spring, the team has seen attendance rise 30 percent over last year.
The Fireflies are selling plenty of Tebow merchandise and seeing long lines of fans who want to meet the ex-Gator, but they’re not the only ones drawing huge crowds this spring.
According to ESPN.com, even the Fireflies’ opponents are seeing the benefits of having Tebow in the Class A South Atlantic League:
“He’s a celebrity, and he’s a brand,” BlueClaws director of ticket sales Jim McNamara said. “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.”
If Tebow remains in Class A all season, Baseball America determined that road teams in the South Atlantic League will earn an additional $3.1 million based on his presence.
Based on his average, he’s unlikely to advance through the Mets’ system any further this season. He’ll probably play in the Arizona Fall League again after the Fireflies’ campaign concludes, with a chance to move up to Double-A next year if all goes well.
However, it’s safe to say the Fireflies would be happy to have him back next season if it comes to that.