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 one-third of the home games in the books, it is clear things are a lot worse this year.

Through 27 home games, the Rays are averaging just 14,650 fans per game, down 18.0% 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.

But if we take a closer look, things may actually be worse.

Let’s project what the attendance would look like through 27 games based on the days of the games and the opponents. That is, how did 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.

What we see is that attendance is actually down more than the 18.0% cited above.


The projected attendance based on the days played and the opponents faced so far are fairly close. The actual attendance is well short of both, down 18.6% based on the days of the week and down 24.9% based on the opponents faced.

So let’s 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.

Remember when people said I was crazy for predicting before the season that attendance would be down 10-20%? That was fun.

Either way, attendance is getting worse and it is just a matter of time before this becomes 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.



  1. Fort Myers Dave says:

    I think there are a few factors that will bumpt the numbers up a bit as the summer progresses. First, the Lightning have been locked in 3 straight challenging and fun to watch playoff series vs. detroit, Montreal, and the Rangers and with luck will have one more vs the Blackhawks or Anaheim. That has to be keeping the attention of a typical walk up fan glued to hockey, not the rays who are stumbling around at 0.500, putting together some nice wins along with some frustrating losses.... Second, the concert series usually brings in a high # of fans regardless of the act, add some of these Saturday games into your average and it will bump up. Third: the NY/Boston factor; if the fickle fans of Boston or the Yankmes begin to think their team has a playoff run in them then you will see 25 to 30K in the Trop and yes: probably 18K of them wwill be cheering for the road team. Ithink these 3 factors will bring that average above what Miami and Tampa had a decade ago, not great but probably closer to what we saw last season. Also if the Rays would actually start plating some runs and get several games above 0.500 and stay in the playoff race then some fans should come also. The press has been highly negative about this franchise and I think that turns the non hard core fan off as one would get the impression that the team was bound to lose 110 games and draw 9K a game w/o Maddon, Friedman and Price with the national press essentially writing off the Rays before the season even began. Winning would change this perception but to win the rays have to score runs and to score runs you can not have guys like Rivera, Beckham and Franklin in your lineup or have talented guys with power riding the pine as he is on pace to set some sort of record for Ks... Its a tough situation but hopefully the pitching will stay solid with Moore returning and the bats may wake up eventually we can only hope for the best and hope fans will start showing up at the Trop....

  2. Geoff Peterson says:

    Once ownership stops straddling the fence and commits to the effort of selling larger season ticket packages to corporate sponsors regardless of the stadium situation, things will improve. As it stands now they want to blame Joe 6 pack for the attendance woes even though they've done little to entice walk up fans when compared to other markets. The problem is in corporate season ticket sales, not the single game buyer. The Rays have not had their heart in corporate sales since Naimoli pissed them all off. They've been angling for a new stadium since Stu has been here and they figured low attendance would make it happen faster. OOPS! Time for the Rays to step up and devote the marketing department to go after the big fish where the profitability lies. Once they do that, they can start with some of the weekday specials for the walk up crowd and stop trying to buy people off with silly freebie items. I'd much rather have free parking or reduced concessions or ticket prices than some ridiculous logo item.

    • Ken j says:

      Charging a 3 dollar surcharge up to 5 hours before the game,certainly is not encouraging families or individuals to purchase tickets or be a walk up.

      • Fort Myers Dave says:

        Good point Ken, that surcharge is weak! But I bet if something is done it will probably be this: instead of calling it a walk up charge of $5, the Rays will simply call the walk up price the regular cost and issue a discount if you purchase a ticket early online or at one of the Rays' stores. Essentially the same thing but taking the "mark up" stigma off of the walk up price might con a few people....

  3. Mike says:

    went to last baltimore series sunday afternoon game 15 dollar bargain tickets but after the game took an hour and a half to get from tropicana field to malfunction junction with construction on i 275 going thru tampa 2 and a half hours to get back home to polk county

  4. Chris D says:

    Just for some perspective, last year the Bulls drew 533,033 in 70 games (2 rain outs don't count towards totals).

    • Fort Myers Dave says:

      7600 a game is a great attendance for a AAA franchise Chris. Raleigh Durham is a large metro area, I am guessing a bit smaller than the Tampa/ St Pete Metro area but still large enough to be a top 50 media market and able to support a pro franchise (the Hurricanes). Damn, if the SunCoast ever loses the rays I hope they relocate there.... Hopefully the rays will find a nice place to build a stadium in an optimum demographic region (hint: Fairgrounds, Seminole Casino, Ampitheater, I-4/I-75) where the team can be assured of a decent crowd every night so Stu and the boys can invest in a power hitter or 2 and a catcher that has a bat!

      • Geoff Peterson says:

        IMO the Fairgrounds area would be the worst place possible to put a new stadium. That would essentially make everyone who lives in Pinellas and most of the people who live in Tampa have to hit the I-4/275 interchange at rush hour for a 7:00 game. The only benefit is if some people from Orlando might want to drive 90 minutes, it makes it easier for them. Channelside, Feather Sound or somewhere near the Gandy Bridge on the Pinellas side make the most sense. They need to do it right and make it an iconic waterfront ballpark like San Fran.

        • Fort Myers Dave says:

          How about the Con-Agra depot off of Nebraska Ave near downtown which Vinik recently acquired? That would be a centrally located site that few could argue with Geoff!

  5. Schlomie BarMitzvahCircumScissorStein says:

    It sure would be nice if when they built they stadium, they would have incorporated an all glass outfield wall structure so that one could see outside. People want to be able to see outside, especially in Florida.

  6. Bob Ross says:

    Today's story about holding back good seats until game day and then charging extra -- it's a mess and not good PR. Also, the so-called Flex plan isn't very flexible at all. (The Lightning flex plan is far more useful.) Sometimes I think the Rays really do want to leave.


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