via Tampa Bay Rays

via Tampa Bay Rays

Last month we got an ominous sign of just how bad attendance numbers might be this season when the number of people who showed up to Fan Fest was down 20% from the year before.

It was hardly scientific, but it did suggest that interest in the Rays was down. That, along with the loss of Joe Maddon, David Price, and Ben Zobrist, and lowered expectations for the team suggested attendance would be even worse than the MLB-low 17,857 per game that showed up last year.

Now we have an even stronger sign that attendance will indeed drop this year and it comes from Stuart Sternberg who was asked about the drop in ticket sales and sponsorships (via TampaBay.com).

“There is no cratering going on, but they’ll be down a bit,” Sternberg told the media. “But we’ll see how in-season goes. Sponsorships have been a couple of issues with local companies who for whatever reason have chosen not to.”

So the Rays have already seen a drop in ticket sales. Now the question is “how much?” The Rays depend a lot on walk-up crowds, so we won’t know the extent of the drop until the season starts.

And let’s not ignore the dip in sponsorships. A drop in corporate interest could mean a drop in what is already a crappy season-ticket situation.

Attendance at Rays games hasn’t dropped below 17,000 per game since Sternberg’s first season as the principal owner in 2006 when the Rays averaged just 16,925 per game. At this point, I would be surprised if they exceeded that mark this season.

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7 Comments

  1. Gus says:

    Another Friday, another gloomy post from Cork. I'm here to tell you it isn't all bad.

    No Price, Zorbist, Maddon, Hellickson, etc. Coming off a very disappointing season. Hard to imagine not having a dip in attendance at the outset. But don't fret: this will be the most profitable season for Sternberg in many a moon -- payroll down, management costs (Friedman and Maddon) down, central funding up.

    You lose 3000 fans a game (avg. $20) X 81 games= $4,860,000; A couple of sponsorships=$1,000,000. You are still to the good, since MLB payroll is down about $8M plus you don't have Maddon and Friedman (probably would have been $5M this year). And that doesn't factor in the central funding going way, way up.

    Sternberg and his partners will be just fine. As they've been every year since they bought this money machine on the cheap.

    Now about the local TV contract . . . .

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  2. LaneMeyer says:

    Isn't waning corporate sponsorship Stu's problem? You can't blame the fans for that, it's the team's job to make it an exciting product on and off the field. I've been saying for years I think they are purposely tanking corporate sponsorship and corporate season ticket sales. We average 10,000 -12,000 less season ticket sales to corporations than the AVERAGE MLB team.

    The local fans are already doing their job, now Stu needs to do his. Naimoli ran the corporate relationships into the ground but if Stu and his team are such great businessmen, they should have been able to achieve success. There's so much more to profitability than butts in the seats. Even the last TV contract was lowballed in an effort to get the new stadium. This next TV contract better be Stu's coup de grace in negotiating based on TV ratings for this team and recent contracts signed in other large and small markets.

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  3. Rick says:

    what do does Sternberg expect when he fields a team w/ AAA players?

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  4. Nick says:

    While I surely do not work with everyone in the entire Tampa/St Pete area, I need to attest to the fact that in my work place there is more excitement this year for the Rays than any time since the 2009 band wagon year. If this team just plays exciting baseball and stays around .500 I don't see how there will not be an increase in attendance this year. People want to see what a team without Maddon at the helm will be like. Cash a local boy returns home. Rocco back in uniform. Montoyo finally getting a chance to move up to the majors and coach. Having a catcher that can run to first base will make this team more exciting in and of itself. The prospects of watching an outfield of Desmond, Kiermaier, and Souza play defense is also exciting. I for one can't wait to sit in the wonderful A/C of the Trop and root for our new team.

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