In a column by Michael Sasso of the Tampa Tribune, he addresses the issue of whether or not the Rays are doing enough to help attendance. This is something we have addressed on this site in recent weeks.

One of the biggest issues has been advertising, and what some fans and media personalities have perceived as a lack of effort on the part of the Rays.

According to Sasso, their fears may be true…

“…data suggests the Rays cut their ad spending by 33 percent over the past two years. In 2009, the team spent an estimated $761,000 on TV, radio, print, billboard and online ads, Kantar found. That fell to $508,000 in 2010. The team’s advertising rose slightly in the first half of 2011 over the first half of 2010…Most teams also cut their ad spending by 14 percent to 40 percent. But the data show the Rays spent less on advertising last year than everyone except the Royals (see chart). The Rays declined to comment on Kantar’s data.”

That’s kind of amazing considering the number of teams that can sell out their ballparks without any advertising at all. Sasso does add that there is debate as to how much advertising impacts ticket sales.

Jonah Keri, who authored the book “The Extra 2%” about the rise of the Rays, has a different take on why the Rays attendance is so bad.

“I just think this is the 30th worst market out of 30 markets.”

We guess that chapter will be in the paperback edition.



  1. Michael says:

    Spot on analysis by Keri.

  2. Beth says:

    Rays could spend less on advertising because they are bad at it, or because they have given up on the market; they could spend less in part because ad rates in this region are lower than in many other MLB regions (I don't know if they are, but I'm going to assume a 30 second spot on a Tampa Bay TV station is cheaper than one on a Chicago or SF or LA station). Or perhaps they've concluded that advertising does little to affect actual attendance. I think the "Be the Thunder" campaign of the Lightening is just fabulous. But I still have never bought a ticket to a hockey game. Wonder what evidence there is that $$ spent on ads leads to $$ earned at the gate?

    • Gus says:

      An entire industry of [M]Ad Men (and women) built their livelihoods on producing results. I don't think your line of questioning is a serious one, but if not, I'm sure they'll show you market research that it works.

      As they are the 15th or 16th largest MSA, and ad rates are driven by people in the market, I'd say ad rates are probably average and the Rays are just cheap in marketing like they are cheap in other areas like, say, shortstops.

      All that said, you could have 100 Don Drapers producing the best advertising in the world, if your owner is constantly seen as adverse to his best customers (Pinellas County residents) and their government, it won't have the impact it should. How can you market a payroll decimation and a convicted drug cheat as your new blood? Tough

      Keri: I think you only have 27 markets for baseball, as NYC, Chicago and LA are all doubles. Maybe DC-Baltimore. But it is the poorest one (right now) because of local economy, lack of baseball history, troubled and unstable ownership situation. These things all can (and will) change.

  3. Joe says:

    Pretty appalling what Jonah Keri said. Obviously, he isn't a fan of the market and the fans. Wish he could hide it better, but guess not.

    As far as marketing goes. Just like baseball operations, YOU GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN. I believe that as an axiom. If you don't sew or plant any seeds, you reap nothing. Obviously, they aren't in the sewing or reaping mode. And you wonder why I am so cynical. If the Rays were as fanatical and passionate about marketing, then maybe, perhaps, they would get their 2-3K more a game?

    Obviously, everyone has an agenda, and the room for the gray area seems to be getting smaller. Too bad Jonah wouldn't even acknowledge that.

  4. s says:

    ok, i understand the espn hatred. but right now, it's hard to dispute the worst market statement.

    we as an area are strugging financially. our population is overstated. due to nationality, hometown loyality, and age. all of these studies don't paint the true picture of area. you simply can't estimate attendance based on a generic formula for the tampa bay area.

    simply, the rays have figure out how to generate nearly the same revenue selling less tickets. they have increase prices, dropped advertising, renamed sections, all to put the same amount of cash in their pocket while making it look like fan apathy and creating leverage for a new stadium. why else would they raise prices on the cheapest seats in this area, in this area?


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