The Rays hosted their annual Fan Fest on Saturday and by all accounts everybody had a great time and the Rays raised nearly $70,000 for the Rays Baseball Foundation and ALS research. Unfortunately, it also gave us our first hint about attendance this season and it is not good.
According to the Rays, 16,000 fans attended Fan Fest. This is significant because there appears to be a loose correlation between how many fans attend Fan Fest and how many fans buy tickets during the regular season.
Here is estimated Fan Fest attendance the last five years:
- 2012: 25,000
- 2013: 25,000
- 2014: 20,000
- 2015: 16,000
- 2016: 16,000
Now here is regular season attendance per game the last five years:
- 2012: 19,255
- 2013: 18,645
- 2014: 17,857
- 2015: 15,403
- 2016: ?
It is not an exact correlation, but there is a pretty good pattern. This is also supported by evidence that has shown that how a team performs during the season has less impact on that season’s attendance than things like location, stadium quality, last season’s performance, and championship history. That is, attendance is mostly determined before the season ever starts.
In other words, Rays fans should brace themselves for attendance in the 15,000-16,000 range once again and all of the national scorn that comes with it.