Earlier today we looked at how the payroll has changed through the years. Now let’s compare the evolution of the payroll to the Rays’ average attendance through the years. And to our surprise, there is more correlation than we would have expected.
Payroll values are in millions…
It is hard to believe that there was a time when the attendance was about 13,000 per game. However, those years also correlate with the years with the lowest payroll. And as payroll went up, so did attendance. Of course, wins also went up. But when the payroll went down in 2011, so did attendance.
However, there also appears that there is a limit to what the attendance can be. Even when the payroll continued to grow in 2009 and 2010, the attendance remained the same.
This is hardly scientific, and there are a lot of other factors at work here. But it appears that payroll influences attendance to some extent. And depending on what the payroll and wins look like, attendance at The Trop will always fall between 13,000 and 23,000. Never lower, never higher.
In the book “Baseball Between the Numbers,” they looked at factors that have an influence on attendance. The research wasn’t perfect, but the seven factors were ranked like this (with the most important factor ranked first)…
- Stadium Quality
- Market Size
- Honeymoon effect (impact of new stadium typically lasts 3 years)
- Games won in previous season
- Playoff appearances in past 10 years
- Games won in current season
- Per-capita income
The Rays fail miserably at the top three. But what they didn’t look at was payroll. We have seen that payroll and wins are not always correlated. And typically, higher payrolls mean bigger stars on the roster. And bigger stars will draw more fans.
We need to see a lot more data before we can say payroll has a big influence on attendance. But looking at the data above seems to indicate that there is at least some influence with the Rays.