Rays fans attendanceThe Tampa Bay Rays have announced a freeze to some ticket prices for the next two seasons, but it comes with a catch and it is all a terrible sign.

According to the Rays, season-ticket holders can now freeze the prices for their tickets for the 2017 and 2017 season at 2016 prices.

This is great … for some.

We don’t know for certain how many season ticket holders there are, but it is not many. In 2011, we came up with an estimate of 7,500 season tickets sold. The average season-ticket account has slightly less than three season tickets. So, 7,500 season tickets might represent around 2,800 season-ticket holders who can have their ticket prices frozen.

The deal is also available to new season-ticket accounts. But 2016 prices didn’t exactly entice a lot of new ticket sales in 2016. It is not going to entice more in 2017.

More importantly, this ticket freeze is bad news. It means the Rays are almost certainly bleeding season tickets accounts.

The numbers above are from 2011. Those numbers are almost certainly lower in 2016.

In 2011 the Rays’ average attendance was 18,878. This year it is 16,150, a drop of 14%. It is safe to assume that season ticket sales have also dropped in that time period.

A similar drop in season ticket sales would translate to a loss of 400-500 season-ticket accounts and ~1,100 season tickets.

We have long talked about how the Rays’ biggest attendance problem is season-ticket sales (and more specifically, corporate season-ticket sales). Losing season-ticket accounts at a time when the team has been working so hard to increase the numbers is just another sign that the team needs to get out of The Trop sooner, rather than later.




  1. Geoff Peterson says:

    There are a lot of broad assumptions and opinions here but very little verified data. This reads more like a tweet than an actual news story.

  2. Gus says:

    To be 100% clear, the reason they are bleeding season ticket sales is NOT the Trop. Stop drinking the purple Kool-Aid Cork.

    The existing season ticket base has (in many cases for many years) found the Trop an acceptable place to watch Rays baseball. These are distinct from those who choose not to attend because the stadium isn't a 5 minute stroll from their house or office.

    These people are dropping their tickets because the product is horrible, and the owner has given no hope of getting better. In fact, he seems to run the team in a way to actively spite the fan base -- trading popular players (Guyer and Pearce this year, Jepsen last year) that have little baseball rationale, are obvious salary dumps and just kill the season you are in and the entertainment value.

    Maddon's loss isn't felt on the field as much as in the community -- he gave the team is spirit de corps. All that has been lost under the bean counter regime of Silverman.

    Absent building Wrigley Field or Fenway Park in the community, nobody is buying season tickets for a last place team with a prick for an owner and a clueless bean counter for GM. The stadium is a red herring. If we had a new stadium with this team, we'd be the Marlins or the D'Backs. Season tickets are a two way street, and when management doesn't hold up its end of the bargain, people walk.

    • monte says:

      I think you're right about the stadium. I've enjoyed the comfort and atmosphere at every game I have attended. However, the inclusion of Maddon's absence as a detriment to the team's attendance (if that is what you meant) seems incorrect. Attendance was bad all the while Joe Maddon gave us excellent on-the-field management.

      I do think this team will be much improved next season if the bullpen can regain its former glory. We've got just one consistent reliever, Colome. If opposing teams can get our improving starters out of the game, they can almost score at will.

      Catcher is dismal but I don't know how it can be improved. Mike Marjama has pretty good stats, but he's 27 and playing at AA. Do any of you know the condition of catcher in the Rays' farm system?

      The infield looks solid. In the outfield Kiermaier must regain his 2015 form. I agree that Guyer is a real loss, but it looks like Franklin is ready to play and hit in the bigs. Dickerson should improve in the direction of his hitting performance at Colorado, and there's the big question of Souza: we know he can swing the bat, but can he connect with the ball?

      I think we've got the makings of a winning team EXCEPT for the bullpen. Help!!!

  3. Jim says:

    “at a time when the team has been working so hard to increase the numbers”


    If they increased attendance and season ticket holders, then there would be much less of a reason to leave the Trop.
    Like I’ve said before, this was a calculated plan that started after the 2009 season. They had a crapload of new season ticket holders in 2009 due to the deposit required in 2008 for the playoff run.
    If they truly wanted to retain these new season ticket holders into the 2010 season they would have bent over backwards to keep them on board. Instead, they increase the upper level +30%. (The main area that you should be building a season ticket base (families and elderly))

    So they basically cashed in massively on the first playoff run and then shit all over any new season ticket holders that were thinking about renewing. This was the date on the calendar that the Rays front office made what appears to be an organizational effort to suppress ticket sales, especially season tickets, in order to speed up the end of the Trop lease.

    And for the 100th time, there’s no way in hell that it should cost more to get into the Trop vs Yankee stadium for a weekend game.

    But let’s be honest. 5 years after a new stadium, we are back into the bottom ¼ of the league in attendance, if not the bottom 5. All this front office has said is they want league average. Is there anyone on this site that thinks we’ll average 30,000 after the paint dries? That’s not going to happen.

  4. Sandy says:

    Good article! Couldn't agree more. The Rays definitely need to get out of the badly located Trop. The low attendance has been an ongoing issue even during their run from 2008, 2010, and on with Joe Maddon in charge. I remember Price and Longo complaining about low fan turnout during home playoff games.

    The Rays need a new stadium built in Tampa which will improve attendance regardless if they're a playoff team or not / first place or last. A central location will draw more fans even during weekday, weeknight games. I realize I'm repeating what many Rays fans have already said about the very long stadium issue.

    Regardless of what the attendance will be like in 5 years after the new stadium is built, the bottom line is, the Rays need a new stadium and so does the Oakland A's....MLB's first priority before any discussion of expansion. No one has a crystal ball but attendance should improve in the right direction even maybe league average.

    • Jim says:

      “Regardless of what the attendance will be like in 5 years after the new stadium is built”

      HUH? So let’s spend hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars and have nobody show up for the games. Ask Miami how that feels.

      Ask them if it’s worth it to be extorted and lied to by ridiculously rich owners who refuse to fund their own stadium because they know it’s a horrible investment/risk. A brand new stadium, a contending team, and nobody shows up because of hometown loyality and 100 different things are competing for their entertainment dollar.

      It won’t be different it Tampa. In 5 years after the stadium, we’ll be back in the bottom 5. MLB will mysteriously not have a problem with 22K in the stands because our whiney owner now has his new toy. Then in a few more years, they’ll start to debate if this area is ever going to be able to produce league average and start the extortion again.

      Look I agree, the Trop isn’t great and the Rays probably need a new stadium, but the #1 issue that is brought up over and over is attendance, and that is not going to be solved by a new stadium.

      Attendance will be spectacular the first couple of years. And everyone will be saying “I told you so”, but that will be a short term “fix”. If it costs $36 to sit in the party deck on a Saturday to see the Yankees, can you imagine what ticket prices will be a new trendy stadium? And please when you’re sitting in 102 degree heat index for a getaway day game, please remember how shitty the Trop was.

      • J 2.0 says:

        A new stadium will need to be a dome. I'm pretty tired of people defending the Trop because "it's comfortable." "Tell me how you feel about 102 degree day game."

        You're being ridiculous. The new stadium will have to be an indoor stadium, not a retractable roof either. An indoor stadium. It will need much more natural light coming in and a better atmosphere. And yes it needs to be in Tampa.

        If in 5 years we are averaging 22,000 fans a game, THAT'S NEARLY 100% IMPROVEMENT!!!

        I'd take that. Also stop whining about "tax payer funded stadiums" you literally never see that money, it literally has no impact on your wallet. HOW MANY PEOPLE WENT BANKRUPT BECAUSE THEY BUILT RAY JAY (I will say that was a bad deal and should not be emulated for the new stadium so Sternberg doesn't get all the profits from no sporting events, but that is another topic)

        • Jim says:

          No my friend YOU have no idea of what you are talking about. All the proposals both past and present are for an open air stadium or for a retractable roof. There’s zero chance it will be a true dome.

          If we build a stadium and we average 22K then it will be a complete failure. That’s bottom 5 in attendance, and there’s no way that MLB or the Rays would be happy about that. Unless the really don’t care about attendance and this is more a new toy like I know is the truth.

          We were averaging 19K and they were going to “vaporize” us.
          So a whopping 3K a night is going to save us from the MLB death ray. BULLSHIT it never existed, just idle threat!! Remember how they were going stop the welfare program because we weren’t budging on the Trop lease. Wanna bet that the Marlins are still on welfare?

          So let’s build a $1,000,000,000 stadium(cost of new Rangers stadium) and be in the bottom 5 in attendance. Or would you prefer to sweat you ass off for a few dollars less?

          Dude, I agree the Trop is one of the worst stadiums, without a doubt. But the attendance is the location or the stadiums fault. If(when)they get a new stadium and 14K show up for weekday games against the Jays and we’re back in the bottom 5 then we’ll realize that we just got played by Stu and MLB. IT WILL HAPPEN, look across the state.

          • J 2.0 says:

            I agree with a lot of what you say. The location is #1 reason why attendance is low, ownership is #2. And we don't need a $1 billion stadium. Just a reasonable indoor stadium that holds 30,000 people. Our attendance will never be top 15. But if we can get around 20 that would make the owners happy. And there are only about 2 million people living in the area. We don't have 10 million + centralized like New York, Chicago, Boston, L.A.... so the stadium would certainly do better if you surrounded it with residents. For me to go to a week night game and get back home to Brandon is close to impossible. To get home and pick up the family then drive back out to St Pete and make 1st pitch is hard enough, then not getting home until 11 o clock (after midnight if its the Red Sox) is a tough sell when I have to be up the next morning at 6 am.

          • Jim says:

            You ducked my main point completely what is the definition of “solve the attendance problem” is it worth $700,000,000 to $1,000,000,000 to draw an 22K a night? 23k? Stu and MLB will lead us down a path that says “we need a new stadium because that going to cure all the attendance issues” that’s what they’ve been pitching for years, they want us to believe that they will be able to draw “league avg” (30K) by simply changing the address. There’s no way that’s going to happen.

            1. The league will shut up about the attendance issue for a while, even when it drops back near the bottom.
            2. After 5+ years you’ll hear grumblings about maybe this area is the problem
            3. ESPN will mock us relentlessly if they have highlights in an empty stadium.
            4. Show me ANY study that says the area will get payback on the investment on a $700,000,000 stadium

            I just sick of the lies, the extortion, in order to make Stu richer. If it were such a great investment, then he could make two phone calls and have it fully paid for. Also, I honestly don’t see Vinik touching the Rays stadium with a 10ft pole. If he believed the attendance BS, you’d have an announcement already.

  5. Sandy says:

    I wish the Rays can play the Padres for the remainder of the season!


  6. dadlad says:

    Big deal! Every time I've gone to a game this year, I did not think I got my moneys worth for what I spent. They put out a bad product and if anything they should lower their prices.

  7. Craig says:

    Tropicana Field is by far the worst MLB park I've been to. It isn't the whole problem, but it's part of the problem.

    • Gus says:

      But the stadium is not ANY of the problem when it comes to retaining current season ticket holders who, despite management constantly telling them it is an unsuitable place to watch baseball, still lay down thousands of dollars to watch.

      So Cork's article on losing existing season ticket holders because of the Trop is crap. They are losing those people because the team is crap and the owner operates with disdain towards the loyal fans he does have.

      Even the guy who runs Rays Index has lost interest . . . .

  8. Michael says:

    I don't see how freezing prices for season ticket holders is a bad sign in any way. Ticket prices have climbed plenty since the 2008 season (along with prices for food, beer, parking, and everything else related to going to a game), so the fact that they're not climbing further is an unmitigated positive in my opinion.

    The data about the number of season ticket holders declining year-over-year (several years ago) and the extrapolations that follow could be a bad sign. But I don't see how failing to continue jacking up prices on those that remain is bad.

    The number of season ticket holders for the Rays is low, almost certainly lowest in the league, we know that and have known that years. It's about time they got a break from rising prices.

  9. Jim says:

    So you have a bad product in a bad stadium with a limited season ticket base. Let's extort season ticket holders by telling them they have a limited amount of time to renew or else. That some great marketing skills. 0% chance of working, but the Trop will get the blame for all the ticket sales, not the greedy owner or front office.

    It's all a giant plan to earn public sympathy for a new stadium. How hard is that to see? They suppress single game sales by charging $36 to sit in the party deck on certain weekend games, now this is the next step to suppress attendance even more.

  10. Steve Suraci says:

    TV revenue aside because owning your own cable network in a major market certainly helps the bottom line.

    That said... If the stadium were the problem then Fenway would be no more than half-full every night. The in park seating is awful: The view from first base to the right field corner is out to center not the plate (you look through the row of people next to you to see the plate), their are still an astronomical number of obstructed view seats, and they still sell standing room only "seats". The early and late season weather is terrible for sitting and watching a game and most afternoon summer games are just as unbearable temperature wise. The amenities in the lower concourses are lacking at best. And yet, they sell-out each and every game no matter how good the team is. People come from around the world to see the abomination built in 1914!

    The difference is the perceived commitment of the ownership group to put their money at risk year in an year out to field a competitive team. They do an amazing job selling this to the corporate fan base. While the average fan might dread the suits in the seats, they have paved the way to the Sox ongoing success. It's guaranteed revenue the club can count on receiving upfront before the season even starts.

    Until the Rays ownership stops whining and starts committing to selling a better product to the local corporate base, the team will continue to have lack-luster attendance no matter where they play.

  11. Rich says:

    I have been a season tix holder since day one at The Trop, and moved to St Pete area to be close to and within distance of the new ballpark...that is a true measure of a loyal and devoted baseball fan. I work in my own business 12 hrs daily and attend a fraction of my paid-for games. But year after year I renew. As a business man and life long baseball fan (from Chicago) I was surprised when the Devil Rays decided on StPete. The market is weak, low income, and has not grown in 30 years check the population stats census 1980 vs 2010. It is a stagnate metro area because of many factors including the City just does not want density.....(we are getting some downtown but not nearly enough too little too late to support the Rays.) This is major league baseball. StPete is not a major league city. Possibly Tampa is.....it has shown huge growth over past 30 years....I do not have the answer; however, it is NOT the location of The Trop...it is not a traffic situation. IT IS A FACT THAT there is a large percentage of the population that is poverty or near poverty and no job creation in past 30 years. I DO NOT WANT RAYS TO LEAVE; however, they must do so to ever get to major league attendance. When you start up a business, you must do the research and a key is BPI....which is BuyingPowerIndex. It does not qualifty for success based on BPI.

    And finally, regardless of where the Rays end up, they must put EXCITEMENT ON THE PLAYING FIELD. THEY MUST PUT ATHLETISM ON THE PLAYING FIELD. AND THEY MUST DEVELOP YOUNG PLAYERS OUTSIDE AND OPEN UP SOME BARRIERS with real raw talent...somehow the other teams have that compare the Rays roster vs many of the contenders. We have a basic boring team which plays nice baseball and behaves nicely. And one final comment, it is even difficult to give free tickets to people here in StPete....in fact, it takes more time to convince them to go even if I am paying.

    Sorry, St Pete you have had your chance, now let Tampa or someone else get this franchise.


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