Tampa Bay Rays fans

The Rays finished dead-last in attendance last season at 1.45 million with just 17,857 tickets distributed per game, and with more than half of the home games in the books, it is clear things are a lot worse this year.

Through 48 home games, the Rays are averaging just 14,730 fans per game, down 17.5% from last year and on pace for less than 1.19 million in attendance for the season. The last team to draw fewer than 1.3 million fans in a season was the 2006 Marlins with an attendance of 1.16 million. The last time the Rays did it was in 2005 with 1.15 million fans attending games that season.

If we project what the attendance would look like through48 games based on the days of the games and the opponents, we get an ugly picture. That is, how does the attendance so far compare to the average attendance on those days of the week last year and how does the attendance compare to the average attendance in games versus those same opponents last year.

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The actual attendance is well short of both projections, down 16.4% based on the days of the week and down 22.9% based on the opponents faced. The actual drop falls in the middle, but much closer to the days of the week projection.

If we split the difference and say attendance is down about 20%, that would put the 2015 attendance on pace to land in the neighborhood of 1.16 million and just a tad under 14,300 per game. However, that might not be fair as days of the week may be a bigger factor in determining attendance than the actual opponent. In other words, maybe the actual drop of 17.5% so far is where the team is headed.

Either way, attendance is getting worse and if the Rays are in the playoff hunt in September, this will be a huge national story.

Opening Day’s “projected” attendance was left unchanged in the calculations since attendance in game 1 is not influenced by the day or the opponent. It was also excluded from the calculated averages for 2014. In addition, the two home games against the Nationals were left out of the opponent projection since the Rays did not play the Nats at home last year.

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19 Comments

  1. Gus says:

    This decline is on management. "Its the location of the ballpark -- not the market" -- is an elaborate ruse. Any of us who have gone to games and bought tickets this year will tell you the whole ticket buying process is maddening and depressing. This is not a business trying to get fans to the ballpark. This is a business trying to get a handout from local governments for a new ballpark and sabotaging itself in the short-run for a long-run payoff. Hard to root for people who would do that, especially when the people with the real money invested in the team (Sternberg and Mr. Chicago) don't even want to be part of the Tampa Bay community. But it is our plight, and the fact that the Rays can stick it to the Red Sox and Peter Gammons with nobody in the ballpark most nights is a source of perverse joy.

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    • Gabe says:

      God you sound like the Butthurt council of Shit Pete. Get over yourself. It's not the ownerships fault. For crying out loud they gave out free playoff tickets just to pack the stadium. Can't wait till they leave that dump of a city.

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  2. Jim says:

    Cork or anyone,
    What are they doing to actually get people in the seats, especially on the weekends? The answer is nothing. Show me any business that has a product that struggles to sell, and will not change their marketing or price point. There is zero excuse for a team to whine about attendance and empty seats yet simply refusing to lower their ticket price. Like I said before, take a look around the league. Look at what $60 will buy you at a Mets weekend home game and compare that to the upcoming series against the Mets. You can buy an equal or better seat in NY, vs St Pete and the Trop.

    And once again, the cheapest seat in the Trop for the last NYY series was more expensive than a game in Yankees stadium on the 4th of July. Lower prices, and better promotional ticket deals would put people in the seats. Yet to stand pat on prices, keeping up the prime game BS, charging extra for walkups, adding fees on ticketmaster, hasn’t increase attendance, but all of these “extras” put bonus dollars in their pockets. By simply reducing these extra “charges” and reducing prices would easily result the same amount of revenue by increasing ticket sales. But the front office would rather have less fans at a higher price vs more fans at a lower price, even if the bottom line was equal. That way they can blame it on the location and ask for a shiny new toy.

    I truly can’t wait until a new stadium is built, and 3 full seasons have passed. The Rays will be back in the bottom 5 in attendance, the ticket prices will be increased, and then they FO will turn on the fans for not showing up instead of placing all of the blame on the location and the Trop. All you’ll hear is “we did all the studies, the fans have to start pulling their own weight now or else”. The Marlin’s are in the bottom 3 after fleecing the Miami area, they only got a one year bump in attendance. The Rays do have a better fan base, but I guarantee they will be back in the bottom 5 in their 4 year in a new stadium, maybe even the 3rd season.

    Call me whatever you like, but nothing I said here is a lie or even a stretch. I’m a fan, and a former season ticket holder, but this team and area isn’t capable of long term attendance figure reaching “league average”. That was the term that the FO used to throw around about the Trop, and I truly don’t believe that is even a realistic goal in a brand new stadium.

    Yeah, I know, FREE FOOD!!!! HOW'S THAT WORKING? Go to the ticketmaster website and pick choose your seats for the Mets series, and look at all the tickets available.

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    • Greg says:

      I get both the Marlins and the Rays games on TV (I'm in St. Augustine) and I can tell you the Marlins aren't drawing great but they really try. They have lots of packages and "All You Can Eat" tickets that are $30-$40 - a comparable location at the Trop would start at $50 with no food. They have Monday games where active/retired military, first responders get free tickets. And also half-price Tuesdays. Do the Rays do anything like this to get people out? Check out the ticket prices between the 2 teams on mlb.com and compare the same day of the week and the Marlins have really good seats for $25. I agree the Rays are obviously not trying.

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      • Jim says:

        Their promotions are very limited and I honestly feel most are done to get “we’re trying to sell tickets” press rather than actually doing something. Yet they continue to tack on extra fees for walkups, extra fees on ticketmaster(all teams don’t), higher prime games, higher weekend prices, all of which suppress ticket sales.

        If they actually wanted to put butts in the seats, then they would be pulling out all stops to do it, and they simply aren’t doing it. Stu could care less if this team is in St. Pete, Tampa, or Mexico City. He’s not an active part of this community, never has been, and never will be. His goal is to get a new stadium, no matter where the location, in order to increase the value of this team. Is that debatable?

        Like I said in the above post, they are trashing the Trop as the main culprit in this crime. They don’t dare trash the fans, due to two reasons… it would show that the fans really aren’t interested in attendance vs sitting on their couches watching on TV, and they don’t want to piss off possible voters or public opinion for stadium approval. Yet once again, when the new wears off the stadium, and the Rays are back in the bottom 5, the gloves will come off. MLB average is NEVER going to happen in this area! Yet the mouthpieces in the FO and the press will tell you that the “studies and research” show that it will. And they will be all screaming “I told you so” for the first two years. Just wait.

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        • Starmand says:

          Kindly allow me to qualify something you wrote, Jim. They don't want only a new stadium. They want a free, new stadium. Complete with naming rights, concession income, parking rights and perhaps a new holographic replay system when it is finally invented, etc.

          Don't think so? Then watch this, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcwJt4bcnXs

          What we are hearing is the same old, re-hashed sales pitch.

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          • Jim says:

            Another example of free press and "we are doing all we can" "Tampa Bay Rays offering military members two free tickets to every remaining 2015 home game". In today's paper.

            How about lowering ticket prices for the average fan, especially on the weekends, dropping the prime and walk up crap? Or buy two get one free on the weekend? Nah, lets give them away the military for some headlines.

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          • Jim says:

            That show's you that ticket revenue isn't a priority. Unless they get tax breaks from giving them to the military. They would rather get free press vs giving the average fan discounts and making money off of ticket sales.

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  3. Starmand says:

    Just three little words that will inspire all.

    Open. The. Books.

    And then talk about a new stadium. If not, I'll follow the Rays via TV wherever they go.

    People get tired of the same old, re-hashed sales pitch.

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  4. Brent says:

    Between playing in a city of snow birds, artsy people that don't follow baseball, and a lot of people that can't afford to go while surrounded by water & the Rays tanking ticket sales is ALL good purposeful strategy by the Rays. Because on the surface is whats shown, the Rays say "we are good and have bad attendance so it must be the location", "look at the Lightnings attendance", which is/has been the ultimate sale to move to Channelside...

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  5. Starmand says:

    " [T]here isn't a glaring need for us..."

    Someone should add music to those inspiring words. Perhaps something from the movie Dr. Zhivago.

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  6. edward williams says:

    funny i have been saying all of these things and more, but everytime i do (not here) i get the same thing, oh rays fans suck because they don't go to the games and it doesn't matter they are the cheapest. I even texted 620 in the morning and just made the simplest comment that i think that the rays marketing is bad, and of course tom jones slammed me, saying he is so sick of people blaming the marketing. lol than they went on to make fun of my comment. i bring this up because until the local media starts to question the rays ownership things will not change. I even think that they are lying about the attendance, this past weekend it looked like the stadium , on tv of course, was packed, than when you read the paper it says it there was only 16,000. I know that this ownership is alot better than what we had, but not much, they constantly complain about the attendance and cry poormouth, and the local media doesn't say anything about it, oh well , hopefully they will go out and get a bat, who am i kidding it will cost them money. I have to say i was never like this so negative , but for some reason the last couple of years have put me like that . go rays !!!!!!!!!!

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  7. Steve says:

    Stu and this ownership group make it very difficult to be a Rays fan. The product on the field has improved tremendously since they took over, and I will forever be thankful for that. But everything else about the franchise just plain sucks. It was so much easier and way more fun to be a fan of this team in 1998.

    Until we get a new stadium, we're stuck with the same old BS from Sternberg and his cronies. Like many of you have pointed out, they don't even try to sell tickets. Thank God the team is competitive on the field, otherwise our lives as Rays fans would be beyond miserable.

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    • Geoff Peterson says:

      The key is they don't try to sell large corporate season ticket packages. I'm tired of the fans getting blamed or hearing that there are no large corporations in this area. We have 2 Pinellas based companies that supported Tampa teams enough to put their names on Tampa stadiums (St Pete Times and Raymond James) and they and others (Outback, etc) should be buying thousands of season tickets in addition to their luxury box as corporations in other cities do. The Rays sell 10,000 - 12-000 LESS Corporate season tickets PER GAME than the AVERAGE MLB team. Add 10,000 to our attendance and no one is complaining about our numbers.

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      • Jim says:

        But if no one was complaining, then the Trop would be fine. There would be no threats, no shiny new stadium or else talk. They have zero interest in filling the Trop with purchased seats. How obvious is that?

        I bet if you check the "corporate acct sales dept" and compared it to other MLB teams, it would be a single cubicle and voicemail.

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  8. Woodrow744 says:

    I'm tired of this "do we deserve a MLB team?" crap. Build it or don't. Come to the current stadium or don't. Blame it on the hitting coach or don't. It's a free country (for now) and market forces will determine the future of this organization. Relax.

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  9. Ken J says:

    Each year during the first week of the season I would go to the box office and buy tickets to 15 games( Sunday's and midweek). I did this primarily to support the team as sometimes I could not use the tickets. I always asked for seats 1&2 in the lowest row in section 309. I usually ended up in row M. Months later I would go to the games and find the rows in front of me seats1&2 were not sold. This happened year after year. I came to realize that for going early to buy tickets and support the team, the organization was saving the lower rows for later dates. I felt betrayed for my support.
    This year I bought 0 tickets and can add myself as a reason why attendance is lower.

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  10. Hurricanes says:

    With all due respect to all who have commented with excellent ideas to remedy attendance, I would also point out that the Rays' nightly lineups leave much to be desired. It's like rooting for the Durham Bulls many nights. I believe a downtown Tampa stadium is best, but with these types of players, they'd shoot themselves in the foot and still draw low crowds. Fans want offense and "name" players. Pop gun offenses don't sell and pitching/defense is not enough. MLB just signed a rich, new TV deal. Where did all the Rays' increased money from that deal go? Are the absentee owners keeping too much of it?

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    • Jim says:

      You really don't believe that if we had the Blue Jays offense, that we would all of a sudden be drawing 25K a night, do you? The product on the field isn't the problem. We can't afford offense and defense.

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