Bloody Sox wrote:
I would think the novelty of being really good for the first time ever and having a legitimate chance to go deep into the postseason would have caused a big attendance spike by now from the casual fans - the hardcore fans are usually the ones you need to sustain the attendance level, not to get it in the first place. On the bright side, they exceeded 30K fans for their two most recent games, so maybe the time for some big crowds is finally coming.
It doesn't quite work like that.
2007 Rays 1,387,603--10 years of sucky play
2008 Rays 1,523,465 plus 10 more home games, going to be around 1,800,000
1990 Braves 980,129--after years of sucky play
1991 Braves 2,140,217--World Series year
1992 Braves 3,077,400
1995 Yankees averaged 23,684--after a few lean years (averaged since 95 was strike shortened)
1996 Yankees averaged 27,788--World Series year
1997 Yankees averaged 31,825
I admit the Rays players would have loved to seen a 91 Braves attendance increase this year, but 1/2 million increase is not bad either. But I do think for the rest of the season, the Rays games will be at least around the 30,000 mark for every game. And then in 2009, the ticket sales will probably be around 2.3 mill or so.
The Braves are a pretty fair comparison, population-wise (probably around 4 million), but they had a long and storied baseball tradition working in their favor -- people were coming back, not being won over, and TBS was bringing them fans from all over, too.
The Yankees are the most extreme case of an unfair comparison -- decades of tradition, and like 18 million+ people to draw from. The Yankees should be able to get 25,000 people easily, any day of the week with their pop base and density.
The Rays draw from probably about 3 million+ people, but the pop density is very low -- it is a 2-hour plus drive for a very large number of those included in that 3 million. (I am basing on 1990 census info, with some expanding of the market to adjoining counties and allowance for growth to come up with the 3 million -- maybe not the most accurate math, but close enough to demonstrate.) When I was a 'Sox fan' in Connecticut, I'd get to 2-3 games a year with the 3-hour or so drive. I'd get to NYC teams a couple times too. 4-6 games for the Rays is about as good as I can ever expect to do with the 2 1/2 hour drive I have now, and kids' schedules and other obligations have prevented me from getting there at all this year.
The Rays also have the whole Florida transplant thing working against them, as already mentioned. Many people are still Detroit, NY, Boston, Chicago, Atl, Baltimore, Min, etc. fans and are reluctant to have those allegiances shared with this new team, regardless of how old they were when they moved here. (I defected from the Nation with no regrets years ago! but my family is still Boston/New York.)
I think when ST moves to Charlotte County, the Rays will start to draw a lot more fans from this area, (southwest Florida) especially after their run this year.
It is going to take time, but the Rays are moving in the right direction.
Be excellent to each other.