Yesterday, Stuart Sternberg told the Pinellas County Commissioners that only 300 season ticket holders are from the city of St. Pete. We initially heard that these accounts represented “just shy of 1,000 tickets.” Today we have a better idea of what the numbers represent, and if anything, they sound worse today.
According to Marc Topkin, the 300 accounts represent full-season season-ticket holders, and that those accounts represent “about 800-900 seats per game.” Also, we initially gave St. Pete the benefit of the doubt that the 300 accounts represented just private season ticket holders and ignored corporate sales. But by all accounts, there is no distinction being made and the 300 accounts include tickets purchased by businesses in St. Pete.
Of course, this ignores the rest of Pinellas County which accounts for 72% of the county’s population. So let’s see if we can estimate how many season tickets come from the entire county and how that might change if the team moves to Hillsborough.
Noah Pransky points out that the Rays told the ABC Coalition in 2008 that 47% of the team’s season ticket holders were from Pinellas County. If we use the most conservative estimate we have seen for the total number of season tickets (6,000), that would mean approximately 2,800 season tickets (we are now talking about actual seats) are purchased by people or corporations from Pinellas County and 3,200 are from other counties. Of the 2,800 from Pinellas, we’ll say 850 (30%) are from St. Pete and about 1,950 (70%) are from other parts of the county*.
Of the remaining 3,200 tickets, how many season tickets are purchased by fans or corporations in Hillsborough? It would be a reasonable guess to say “most of them”**. But I am not sure it even matters. The point is that the Rays are not located where the majority of their fans are located.
The Rays claim that 33% of their fans live in Hillsborough County compared to just 25% in Pinellas County. In other words, there are 32% more people in Hillsborough County that consider themselves Rays Fan than in Pinellas County, a number that is consistent with the differences in population sizes between the two counties***.
So if the Rays move to Hillsborough, and the same percentage of local fans buy season tickets as Pinellas fans are doing now, season tickets from the Rays’ home county would jump 32% from 2,800 seats per game to 3,700 seats per game. And that is not even considering the number of Hillsborough residents jumping on the bandwagon or the higher rate of corporate support from being in Downtown Tampa.
If the ratio of corporate tickets-to-private tickets increased form 1:2 to 1:1 (still less than “typical” big league teams), that would bring the number of season tickets being purchased just from Hillsborough County to approximately 5,000 seats, or about 2,200 more than Pinellas County is doing now.
Of course, the number of season tickets being purchased from Pinellas would go down. Would it go down enough to off-set the increase in Hillsborough? Maybe. But I am willing to bet there are more season tickets would be bought by people from Polk County than by dolphins.
- Less than half of the Rays season tickets are purchased by fans or corporations from Pinellas County.
- Using the most conservative estimate for number of current season tickets (6,000), 800-900 seats are purchased by people/businesses from St. Pete and another 2,000 come from other parts of Pinellas County.
- There are 32% more Rays fans in Hillsborough as compared to Pinellas and Hillsborough County is 38.2% bigger than Pinellas.
- A conservative estimate suggests that season tickets purchased for a stadium in Hillsborough County by residents of Hillsborough would be a minimum of 3,700 seats per game, or about 900 more than Pinellas County residents are purchasing now.
- However, if the rate of corporate support increases as expected, the conservative estimate become 5,000 seats per game or 2,200 more than Pinellas is buying now.