I know, I know. Many of you would rather be locked in a room with Derek Shelton reading the dictionary while wearing a speedo than talk about attendance. And for the most part we respected your strange wishes this season. Sickos. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least do a quick end-of-the-year look and see how things are trending at The Trop.
Below is the number of wins and the average attendance for each season in the (Devil) Rays existence. While we have already discussed how wins may only be the sixth most important factor in determining a team’s attendance, it does still play a role.
This season, attendance was up slightly to 19,255 tickets distributed per game. That is a modest rise of 2.0%. More importantly, it appears that the shine of the suddenly successful Rays has worn off. After three straight seasons north of 22,000, attendance now appears to have settled back down in the 19,000 area.
The other major point from this chart (something we have discusses in the past) is that it appears that Rays attendance at The Trop will always fall within the 13,000-24,000 range. That is, at their absolute worst, the Rays will never draw fewer than 13,000 per game. And under perfect conditions, the Rays will never draw more than 24,000 (with the inaugural season being a special exception).
Of course, the most important question is ‘Why?’ And if you ask ten Rays fans, you will get 12 different answers. And honestly, they are probably all right.
Let’s face it. If you put this franchise in Seattle or Minneapolis, they would have averaged 28,000-30,000 per game. And while some factors may be more important others, there is no single reason why the actual attendance is one-third less than that.
Would attendance improve with a rail system? Probably. But how much? Would corporate support improve in Tampa? Probably. But how much? Would attendance improve with a shiny new stadium. Yes. But for how long?
The fact is, the Rays need all these things, and more if they are ever to significantly improve attendance. And they will have to keep winning. But until that happens, this chart isn’t going to change.