Blue Jays vs Rays Attendance Review 2007-2014

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Tonight, the Rays play the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field for the first time in 2015. This post will look at demographics and attendance trends for Rays home games versus the Blue Jays since 2007.

According to my demographic study last year, there are approximately 2,000,000 baseball fans living in Florida who hail from outside the United States. I do not yet have data on what percentage of this group is from Canada versus more assumed origins such as Cuba or the Caribbean. The 2015 Public Policy Polling survey does not list the Blue Jays as one of the top eight fanbases in Florida.

Despite low Florida-wide support, the City of Dunedin, located 30 minutes from Tropicana Field, does claim a high percentage of Blue Jays fans retiring to Dunedin to be close to Blue Jays Spring Training facilities. According to City-Data.com, 10% of the population of Dunedin is foreign-born, yet the city is 86.6% white. So there might something there.

The following chart shows the Rays home record vs the Blue Jays, average attendance at Tropicana Field when the Blue Jays visit, the overall annual average, and the percentage difference between attendance versus the Blue Jays and the average attendance.

Rays vs TOR chart

Since 2007, games versus the Blue Jays have drawn 15% less than the average game at Tropicana Field. Since 2012, however, the difference between average attendance and attendance at games versus the Blue Jays has shrunk from 23% to 16%.

The following graph depicts the previous chart.

Rays vs TOR graph

Here we see the average attendance in games versus the Blue Jays has been consistently around 15,000 per game since 2012. Attendance dropped approximately 2,000 fans per game from 2011 to 2012 and has not yet recovered.

Let’s now break out the Blue Jays versus Rays attendance into weekdays or weekends. The Rays usually have significant weekday/weekend attendance splits. In 2014, the Rays saw 52% more fans on weekends than on weekdays.

(Note: I define “weekdays” as Monday through Thursday, or days where the average fan is restricted in time on both sides of the game, whether by work, traffic, or a need to sleep. Weekends are defined as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – games where fans can stay as late as possible.)

Weekdays (Mon-Thurs)

The following chart depicts how many weekday games were played as well as the average Rays attendance in games versus the Blue Jays on weekdays. The far right column is the percentage difference between average attendance in Blue Jays games and average attendance for the season.

Rays vs TOR wkday chart

Prior to 2012, the Rays played either 3 or 6 games during the week versus the Blue Jays in the course of a season. In the last two years, the Rays have played 10 games against the Blue Jays, with seven occurring during the week and three scheduled for the weekend.

The following graph depicts the previous chart.

Rays vs TOR wkday graph

Weekends

The following chart shows how many games were played and, more importantly, Rays attendance on weekend games versus the Blue Jays since 2007. Like the weekday chart, the far right column shows the percentage difference between attendance at Blue Jays games and attendance for all games at Tropicana Field.

Rays vs TOR wkend chart

Attendance for weekend Blue Jays games has been closer to the Rays average attendance than Blue Jays weekday attendance. Looking at promotions, we might be able to explain why 2008 and 2011 attendance was above average. In 2008, the Rays vs Blue Jays weekend series featured a crowd of over 32,000 to see an MC Hammer post-game concert and in 2011, over 27,000 visited Tropicana Field to see a Miranda Lambert post-game concert.

The following graph depicts the previous chart.

Rays vs TOR wkend graph

While the Rays average weekend attendance has dropped nearly 6,000 since 2009, weekend attendance versus the Blue Jays has dropped only 3,800 per game.

Not that any drop is good, but comparatively, weekend games versus the Blue Jays have not dropped as much as the general trend.

Conclusion

This season, the Rays play nine home games versus the Blue Jays, six on weekends and three during the week. We can probably predict attendance for the first series will be lower than average due to other events, especially on Saturday, April 25th when the Tampa Bay Lightning continue their playoff run at Amalie Arena and the Tampa Bay Rowdies also play at home at newly renovated Al Lang Stadium. By the end of the season, however, attendance at Rays home games versus the Toronto Blue Jays should settle at 10-15% lower than the overall Rays home attendance average.

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