clock menu more-arrow no yes

Rays Monthly Attendance Analysis: June 2019

New, 8 comments

$5 tickets in June buoy Rays attendance in typically strong month

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to our third monthly review of the Tampa Rays 2019 attendance. This post will look at attendance in the Rays 12 home games played from June 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019.

  • Total June 2019 Tampa Bay Rays home attendance: 195,727
  • Average attendance per June game: 16,311
  • Highest attendance: 21,598 on Friday, June 14th
  • Lowest attendance: 11,132 on Tuesday, June 11th
  • Average June game time: 3 hours, 3 minutes
  • Highest attended series: 19,929 average per game vs Angels, June 13-16
  • Lowest attended series: 13,948 average per game vs Texas, June 28-30
  • Total Tampa Bay Minor League June attendance: 59,496
  • Tampa Bay Minor League June average attendance per game: 1,266 (47 games)

(Note: TB Minor League attendance includes Tampa, Clearwater, Bradenton, and Dunedin - teams within 30 miles of Tropicana Field.)

Comparing June 2019 with previous years

The following chart compares June 2019 average attendance to other recent years.

Overall, Rays June attendance was the highest it had been since 2016. Beginning June, there was a buzz due to the high quality of play and this buzz was reflected in the stands.

Following historical patterns, June attendance was higher than May’s average attendance by nearly 3,000 fans per game. There were also zero games under 10,000 fans in June 2019.

The following chart depicts Rays June home record and attendance from 2007 to 2019:

The Rays’ June 2019 average attendance increased 5% from their June 2018 average (746 more fans per game). While not as high as 2016 or 2013, June 2019 was the 3rd highest June average since 2012.

Weekdays vs Weekends

Let’s look at the Rays June attendance on weekdays (Mon-Thurs) and weekends (Fri-Sun). The Rays usually have one of the biggest differences in Major League Baseball in regards to weekday versus weekend attendance.

June 2019 breakdown:

  • Weekday home games: 4
  • Weekend home games: 8

The Rays played fewer games in June than average. This may be because they played more home games in April than average (possibly an MLB attempt to reduce cold weather cancellations?).

The following chart shows the Rays average June weekday attendance since 2007.

The Rays weekday attendance in June 2019 averaged 3,200 more fans than in 2018. This is where the Rays $5 ticket flash sale comes into play.

The Rays offered $5 tickets for five games in June across the weekday series against the A’s and the weekend series against the Angels.

This sale was well-received, especially on the Monday game. Monday, June 10th was the Rays only June Monday game in 2019. Possibly because of the $5 sale, Monday, June 10th saw the highest non-BOS, non-Interleague attendance on a Monday in June at Tropicana Field in over 12 years.

The Rays provided financial incentive for fans to attend a Monday game versus a traditionally weak-drawing opponent and fans took advantage. While Tuesday 6/11 and Wednesday 6/12 saw slight increases, Monday 6/10 saw the biggest impact of the sale.

The following chart shows Rays average weekend attendance in June since 2007.

Rays June weekend average attendance in 2019 decreased 1,800 fans per game and was the lowest weekend average in June since 2007.

This decline may be because of the cancellation of the Rays Concert Series. Of the 14 June Saturday game at Tropicana Field from 2007 to 2016, 9 featured post game concerts.

The Rays stopped their Summer Concert Series a few years ago. It is very possible the declining gain in attendance due to concerts was not worth the squeeze in the Tropicana Field marketing budget.

If we look at the difference between weekend and weekday attendance, June 2019 had the smallest weekend gain since 2012.

The Rays have always had one of the largest, if not the largest, weekend to weekday differential in Major League Baseball. This is explainable by the distance of the stadium from the wealth of the fanbase. Monday through Thursday attendance is impacted by traffic and time both to the stadium and heading home after the game. Weekend games do not have the same pressures and time crunch. Convenience counts.

In June 2019, the Rays played AL West and AL Central opponents. These opponents do not typically bring in the extensive fanbases of the Rays AL East opponents. The Rays also did not play any National League teams with large fanbases. In other words, the schedule did not help the Rays attendance concerns.

(This is where we get to complain about MLB’s biggest stars not being as marketed as stars from other sports. If Mike Trout was as big as LeBron James, then perhaps he would have more fans in Florida and more people would go to Tropicana Field to see the Angels on a weekend in June.)

If we combine the allure of $5 tickets on the weekdays with non-alluring opponents on the weekend, a mere moderate gain from weekday to weekend is reasonable.

Additionally, I would be very curious to know the zip code purchase areas of the fans who bought tickets during the Rays $5 flash sale. Did fans from the Pinellas side buy more tickets on the weekdays? Did fans on the Hillsborough side buy more tickets on the weekend?

It is important to remember that residents in the area surrounding Tropicana Field do not have as high of a per capita income as fans in other areas of Tampa Bay. Those fans are the most convenient to Monday through Thursday games. The dilemma is a combination of price point and travel.

(Image from city-data.com)

Conclusion

We’ve made it this far without discussing the Rays June 25th press conference in which they expressed their intent to play games in Montreal in 2024. From what we can assess, that press conference did not have a significant impact on June’s attendance. It’s impact on future attendance has yet to be seen.

As I mentioned last month in regards to the record low attendance in May, the Rays do not want fans to panic. The team is not going anywhere this year, nor next year, and not the year after that either. But panic will set in eventually. Or apathy could set in, which is worse than panic.

June 2019 was slightly better than average by Rays standards. The Rays overall June 2019 average attendance was 400 fans per game more than their average June attendance from 2012 to 2018. Moving forward, Rays attendance should be trending up.

The $5 flash sale helped close the gap between weekday and weekend attendance. $5 tickets are not a sustainable long-term answer, but it is worth noting the Rays also did not sell out the sale for each game offered.

The Rays would re-calibrate and try a flash sale again in July with an even steeper discount to $2 tickets, making 10,000 available per game and producing one of the best attended weeks the franchise has seen in years. More on that next month.

The Rays still have a very good chance of making the playoffs in 2019 and July is traditionally their best month for average attendance. As they head into the second half of the season, the ability for kids to attend games late, discounted tickets, quality opponents, and the excitement of a good team should bring people to Tropicana Field.

***

Previous Monthly Attendance Analysis:

You can find Michael Lortz’s previous attendance analysis work at Tampa Bay Baseball Market and FanGraphs.