Last night, the Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 3-0 in a battle for first place in the Southeast Division. Paid attendance was 18,135 which is only 91.8% capacity for The St. Pete Times Forum.

On the year, the first place Lightning are 18th in the NHL in attendance, averaging 16,856 tickets sold per game (85.3% capacity).

The game was a weeknight game, but is this more evidence that the local economy is the biggest factor leading to the poor attendance of local sports teams? Keep in mind that many people that want to move the Rays believe that a new stadium should be built in the same area where the St. Pete Times Forum is located.

 
 

29 Comments

  1. Vinny says:

    Average capacity….85% (Lightning)>30% (Rays) and 16k fans is larger than most Rays games weekday or weekend

    • Andy says:

      I call BS. You are simply making numbers up.

      Average Rays % Capacity = 52.6
      Average Rays Attendance = 23, 024

      http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance/_/sort/homePct

      Overall, the Rays had 22 games (roughly 25%) of their games with attendance lower than what the lightning pulled last night. And they never, at any point in 2010 had fewer people in the stands for a weekend ga

    • Andy says:

      NEVER had fewer than 18,135 people in the stands on a weekend for any single game in 2010. Not once.

      If you shrink the number to the 16k you cited, the number of Rays games that failed to meet that number shrinks to 13, or roughly 16% of their games…a far cry from saying “most” Rays games draw these kinds of numbers.

      See for yourself, and come back when you’re ready for an honest debate on attendance.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/TBR/2010-schedule-scores.shtml

      • Vinny says:

        If you want a truer comparison take out the 44,000 fans for Saturday concerts and that number would drop to the 30k. How many times has Cork posted that 10K were in the stands, or when you see it on TV you know there aren’t that many. Plus didn’t the Rays tarp off like 10k seats in the upper deck?

        I would say 30% capacity is about right. I don’t think the Rays ever get 85% capacity for a random, middle of the season, Monday night game. Unless it’s Sox or Yanks.

        Boom.

        • Andy says:

          You would say 30% is about right because you can’t be bothered to look up the facts when there’s good trolling to be done.

  2. Cork, you know there is no easy answer here. Personally, my alma mater was playing hoops vs the #1 team in the nation on TV so I stayed in. And then tonight the Tampa Breeze lingerie football team is playing at the same venue. I’m going to that. That has nothing to do with money – just my priorities.

  3. Rob says:

    Being really cold didn’t help either.

    Lightning attendence is usually slow through football season and then picks up. They host Washington on March 7th, a monday. Let’s see what the attendence is then.

    I wonder what seats didn’t sell.

    Of course the economy is a big reason for attendence issues, but that doesn’t discount other factors such as location as a contributors. When the Lightning played in the Dome I went to a lot more games during the week than I do now with the Rays simply because the games were shorter. Getting home @11ish or 12ish is a big difference when you work 9-5. Imagine if you have kids. So logically, location could matter.

    Since you don’t know what the Lightning or Bucs attendence would be if located in St. Pete instead of Tampa, your evidence is not really evidence and just another theory. Not a bad one, but hard to prove.

  4. Kevin says:

    Any idea how the Rays and Lightning compare when it comes to suites and tickets/commitment/interest of the local business community?

    • smac says:

      THere is the the real key to everything. Its the suites and corporate dollars that drive any sports team (aside from tv money). The Rays have got to be near the bottom in corporate support. Not only in the Major leagues but in the 3 bay are pro teams.

  5. Amanda says:

    The Lightning are also coming off two train-wreck seasons where the owners nearly ran the team into the ground, and turning off most of the fan base. I’d say 16k on a weekday in this economy and considering they’re having to rebuild the fan base in a “non-traditional” market is pretty decent. I think there are some apples that you’re trying to compare to some oranges, but it’s not a 1-to-1 ratio.

  6. John says:

    I’d say 90% capacity is pretty good.

  7. Don says:

    Isn’t it amazing how lightning fans try to rationalize poor attendance….
    ie. playing for 1st place in the middle of the week , and poor Rays loyal fans have put up with media and local (non-fans) slamming them during the season…but the media support or non-support has a lot to do with public preception of reality……

  8. Alex says:

    You’re comparing hockey and baseball…really? Obviously baseball is more popular. So the fact that the lightning are getting that many people after this many disastrous seasons is a good thing. The forum is smaller as it is. They sold out two straight games last week. Lets not rationalize the Rays crap attendance with hockey which nationally is nowhere near as popular. Its a second tier sport along with basketball

  9. Kyle says:

    Is this a joke? 91.8% is so terrible.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      If the Rays got 91% on a night they were playing a divisional rival with first place on the line, it would be the lead story on SportsCenter. But I guess since it is hockey, the Lightning get a pass?

      • John says:

        I don’t think so, Cork. If the Rays got 15K (which is what, 40%?), with first place on the line at a game right before the all-star break, it would be on SportsCenter. If the Rays got 31,500 in the same situation (which is about 90%), nobody would care.

        Now, if it were a September game…well, maybe they might. But I still doubt it.

  10. Jeff says:

    This post is a joke, right? Over 18K, stadium rocking and almost full on a Wednesday, and you’re calling this an attendance problem? Love Rays Index, but get a grip. Lightning attendance heading straight up since season started.

  11. JoeRaysFan says:

    Think part of the analogy here is a battle for first place against a division rival and arguably the NHL’s marquee team. It didn’t sell out. And per 620 WDAE-AM, a radio station promotion sold 2,000 seats last night for $6.20. …Also have to throw in the fact that population around these parts with winter residents is somewhat swelled this time of year, and a pile of those are higher income Canadian “snowbirds,” who presumably want to see this type of good matchup.

    No clear answer however you slice it.

    In more sad news, the Rays’ lone Spring Training appearence in Dunedin this year on a Sunday afternoon in March still has plenty of seats available.

    • Andy says:

      Tickets for that Dunedin game only went on sale this Monday. Expecting a sellout by now is absurd.

      • Vinny says:

        Dunedin only holds 5,491 (yeah I looked it up), and it’s one of the top draws in the area (Labatt’s on tap!)…Monday was five days ago. I know it’s a Wednesday, but so was the Lightning game vs the Caps. I bet the Lightning even have 5,491 season ticket holders.

        • Andy says:

          If by “top draw”, you really mean 12th out of 15 in Grapefruit League attendance”, then yes, the Blue Jays are a top Spring Training draw. But by that logic the Rays regular season games are also a top draw.

          Assuming for one second that Rays fans should somehow be ashamed because the Blue Jays can’t sell THEIR tickets (do we blame the Red Sox when we fail to sell out games when they come to town?), it is still absolutely ridiculous to expect the game to be sold out that quickly.

          And saying “I bet the Lightning have 5,491 season ticket holders” kind of proves my point. Assuming the Jays had such a huge ST fanbase (they don’t), then yes, the game would have sold out already. But are you seriously suggesting that Rays fans should have gone out and bought Blue Jays Spring season tickets just so they could watch their Rays when they come to town? That is dumb beyond comprehension, and counterproductive to the teams own financial interests, as they’d much rather you spend those dollars in Port Charlotte or St. Pete.

          • Andy says:

            *Correction 13th of of 15 in Grapefruit League Attendance, only underdone by the Nationals and Astros

  12. Brian Cashman says:

    Well, I just signed Rafael Soriano to a 3 year 35 million contract. So you know, rest assured, I haven’t forgotten how to be a douchy GM.

  13. Rob says:

    The other huge difference is the lightning aren’t asking for a new stadium, thus less attention is paid to attendence issues.

  14. Greg says:

    Baseball is a much more popular sport than hockey, so if anything the fact that the lightning are averaging only a few thousand less than the Rays pretty much proves that the main problem with Rays attendance is the location of the stadium.

  15. Bobby Fenton says:

    What the hell is wrong with “only” 92% capacity, Cork? I think the Lightnig are doing as well attendance-wise as could be expected, and it will only get better from here forward, especially after the Super Bowl.

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