Attendance Analysis (Pt. 1): Introducing Att+

When attempting to analyze the Rays' attendance issues, I've always found myself with more questions than answers.  We all know that the Rays have had low attendance figures ever since their inception, but in my opinion, it's not possible to draw meaningful conclusions from the raw data.  Looking at raw attendance figures is about as evaluative as looking at RBI totals.  Do the numbers tell you what happened in the past?  Sure they do.  However, do they answer the question "Why?"  Do they provide context?  Do they evaluate a player/team's talent level?  Eh, not so much. 

The problem with raw attendance figures is that there are lots of variables that influence them.  Does the team have a recent history of winning or losing?  Has the team been established in the area for an extended period of time?  How large is the metropolitan area?  How high is the unemployment rate in the area?  What are the demographics of the area?  All of these variables can influence attendance figures, but are not accounted for when looking at the raw data.

In order to engage in a meaningful analysis of attendance issues, we need to bear these variables in mind and attempt to account for them to some extent.  That's easier said than done, though, and it can make for lengthy articles full of confusing charts, baffling graphs, and dry text that only the excessively nerdy can stand to drudge through.  To make it somewhat more bearable, for the next couple of weeks I plan to tackle these variables one at a time, slowly expanding our knowledge of attendance figures and hopefully arriving at some conclusions about the Rays' attendance.  At the moment, I have no idea what those conclusions are going to be or if we'll be able to conclude much at all, so it'll be our own little adventure.

Since this topic is one that little research has been done on yet, please feel free to offer suggestions and ideas as this series goes along.  I don't claim to be an expert on this subject - not even close - and anything you have to add is greatly appreciated.  My final goal is simply a better understanding of the Rays' attendance situation and the more brains at work on the subject the better.

***

To begin the series, I want to introduce a new statistic that will be vital to our analysis: Att+.  Much like the statistic OPS+, Att+ (or "Attendance Plus") is a measure of how a team's attendance figure compared to the league average for that season.  One-hundred is league average; scores lower than 100 are below league average and scores higher are above average.  For example, last year the Rays' average attendance per game was 21% lower than the league average, giving them a 79 Att+.  During the same year, the Yankees' attendance per game was 57% higher than league average, good for a 157 Att+.

While Att+ doesn't control for many of the variables that we're concerned with, it does one very important thing: it allows us to compare team attendances across baseball history.  If we're going to draw conclusions about attendance data, we need to be able to compare the Rays with other teams in history and we need to do so accurately.  For example, compare the raw attendance figures (Att/Game) for the Rays' first three seasons (1998-2000) with the Mets' first five seasons (1962-1965):

Season

Mets

Rays

1

11,532

30,942

2

13,335

19,294

3

21,129

18,121

Looks like the Rays started off a lot stronger then the Mets, right?  The Rays did drop off while the Mets increased over time, but the Rays outdrew the Mets handily those first two years.  Now, though, let's look at those same seasons but using Att+:

Season

Mets

Rays

1

91

110

2

110

69

3

168

64

Holy cow!  Both the Rays and Mets drew around league average their first seasons, but the Mets dominated the Rays over the next two years.  Their league average attendance was around 12.5K per game while the 1998 league average was 28K per game, which makes quite a difference when comparing teams from those two decades.

Like the Mets, the Rays are an expansion team and face the problem of developing their fan base from the ground up.  How have expansion teams fared during their inaugural years?  Do all expansion teams struggle initially?  Are there any teams that offer interesting comparisons to the Rays' current situation?  Later on today I'll post the second part of this series, which will focus on these questions.  Until then, here's a comparison to think about:

First 12 Seasons of Existence (Att+):

Season

Marlins

Rays

1

126

110

2

109

69

3

99

64

4

84

55

5

108

48

6

76

48

7

61

55

8

53

47

9

54

56

10

37

54

11

60

71

12

74

79

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join DRaysBay

You must be a member of DRaysBay to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at DRaysBay. You should read them.

Join DRaysBay

You must be a member of DRaysBay to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at DRaysBay. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker