Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

It could get mighty quiet in the Trop this summer

Rays first baseman James Loney (21) tosses a glove to a fan after the Rays’ 2014 home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Rays first baseman James Loney (21) tosses a glove to a fan after the Rays’ 2014 home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Typically, this is when things start picking up at Tropicana Field.

The kids are out of school, the Rays are usually in contention and the thought of spending a hot, muggy night inside an air-conditioned big-league stadium sounds wondrous.

But what happens when you remove the part about the Rays being in contention?

In other words, should you be concerned that Tampa Bay's notoriously underwhelming attendance figures are going to get even uglier now that the Rays are sinking on the field?

The short answer?

Yes, but don't panic.

(At least not for now.)

For the most part, baseball teams have a good handle on their projected attendance before the season's first pitch is thrown. Season tickets and other preseason sales establish a team's base for the year, and so day-of-game tickets actually play a much smaller role.

A team's place in the standings may cause fluctuations, but usually not to dramatic extremes.

Around here, 2008 was a rare exception. The Rays were a team on the rise, and their preseason sales reflected this, but hardly anyone expected a run to the World Series.

Through the first 35 home dates of that season (which is where the 2014 Rays are today) the team averaged 18,444 fans per game. When summertime arrived and it became clear the Rays would be in their first pennant race, crowds averaged 25,357 the rest of the way.

The Rays also had noticeable attendance bumps in the second halves of 2010, '11 and '13, which were also playoff seasons. Conversely, the only time in the past decade that attendance has dipped in the summer and fall was the somewhat frustrating 2012 season.

So what does all of that mean for this summer?

Probably a little more elbow room for you at the Trop.

The Rays began this week 29th out of 30 big-league teams with an average attendance of 17,871. That's almost identical to where they were at this point last year, which is a pretty good indication that their preseason sales were similar to 2013's.

The difference is the Rays were two games out of the wild-card race around this time last year. Today, they're about two miles out of the wild-card race.

So though they will still have the same number of season ticket and flex-ticket packages, the Rays are probably not going to see their typical summertime bump in walkup sales.

There are other factors at play — including a favorable schedule from a marquee standpoint with three weekend series involving either the Red Sox or Yankees still to come — but it's probably fair to say long lines will not be a problem this summer.

What will be interesting is where things go from here.

Owner Stu Sternberg has said for years that his greatest concern is not simply that the Rays have historically been near the bottom of the league in attendance, but that they've been near the bottom while averaging 92 wins a season since 2008.

What happens if there are more 80- or 70-win seasons in the immediate future? And will that have a great impact on the season ticket sales that drive revenues?

These are important questions for fans to ask while sitting at the Trop this summer. I just can't guarantee there will be anyone sitting next to you who can answer.

It could get mighty quiet in the Trop this summer 06/16/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2014 7:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest

    BY AMY SCHERZER

    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other

    News

    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.