The Tampa Bay Rays sent a new low for attendance as 5,786 showed up on a Wednesday night to see the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays.
This number was a new low mark for attendance at Tropicana Field eclipsing the old mark of 6,507 which was set in September of 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached.
It is no secret the Rays have struggled in attendance for years. They have been near the bottom of the attendance rankings every year and 29th out 30 teams this year averaging 14,240 per game.
It doesn’t matter what kind of team the Rays put on the field, no one seems to want to go see the Rays play at Tropicana Field.
There are a few things that the Rays could do to help attendance. I lay the attendance issue more at the feet of the Rays than I do the fans. There are three areas the Rays need to focus on to improve the attendance issue. Get better at marketing/advertising. Make the Rays a regional team, and get a new stadium somewhere in Tampa.
1. Get more aggressive in marketing/advertising.
Dollar Dog Nights. Getting a hot dog is part of the experience of attending a baseball game. Why not give the fans a break on the price of a hot dog on a Monday or Tuesday and have hot dogs for a dollar.
The Student Rays Blitz. Have a special promotion and special pricing for college students for every home game similar to what the Tampa Bay Lightning does.
7-11 Promotion. The seven dollar seats for Friday home games is a great promotion, but the fans have to jump through too many hoops to get the voucher for the tickets.
Instead of having to drive to a 7-11 to get the voucher, how about just calling a sales person at the Rays and being able to get those tickets. How about being able to just show up and purchase a seven dollar ticket on a Friday night. Make it easy for the fans.
Family Four Pack. Have a special price every game excluding marquee opponents for families. Let them get four tickets, four sodas, four hot dogs, four drinks for 80-100 dollars.
This would be a great way to get the next generation of Rays fans excited about baseball and coming to the ballpark.
Advertise, Advertise, Advertise. If the Rays are doing any of these promotions outside of the 7-11 offer I haven’t heard about it. The Lightning and the Bucs promotions are all over social media and various outlets on line. Let people know about your promotions that you have.
I’m sure there are other promotions the Rays offer that I am not aware of due to the lack of promoting these events, and I pay close attention to what the Rays are doing in the market.
The Flash Sale that the Rays have in progress right now is a great idea. It is for the first five games of the next home stand starting June 10th against the A’s and continuing June 13th and 14th against the Angels.
The only thing I would change would be possibly not to do this on the weekend, since attendance is always up on the weekend.
Other MLB teams have employed this marketing strategy and have had success.
2. Make the Rays a regional team. The Lightning and the Bucs are regional in that fans from Orlando and points East of Tampa will make the drive to see these teams.
A fan in Orlando wanted to get the seven dollar tickets for a Friday night game and walked into his local 7-11 and they knew nothing about the promotion. Difficult to build that fan base and get folks coming to the ballpark when your promotional partners are not aware of promotions that they are directly involved in.
3. A stadium in Tampa. The Rays need a stadium to make it easier for all fans including those East of Tampa to get to the ballpark.
With Tropicana Field and the drive to St. Petersburg which a lot of Tampa residents don’t want to make, why would fans from Orlando drive the 90 minutes to two hours to Tampa, and then another half hour to St. Petersburg?
The sooner the Rays can get this stadium issue worked out, the better it will be for everyone. The I-4 Corridor is one the fastest growing areas in the country with residents and businesses moving into that area.
You have to make it easy for folks to get to the stadium.
The only thing keeping the Rays in Tampa is of course they can’t leave till 2028, and the TV and radio ratings are very good.
Tampa is the 11th rated TV market in the country and MLB does not want to give up that revenue.
But at the end of the day if the Rays cannot get butts in the seats and figure this stadium thing out, say hello to the Portland Rays. The Montreal Rays. The Vegas Rays.
Baseball in Tampa will be gone for good.