Introductory Exploration of Monthly Baseball Attendance trends in Tampa Bay

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Now that I have charted and graphed attendance for each professional baseball team in the Tampa Bay area in each season since 2007, I can start putting the data together and doing 2nd or even 3rd level analysis. This means looking at the data from different angles and in different combinations to see if any trends, patterns, or anomalies appear.

This first analysis looks at trends in average attendance per month. By doing this, I will attempt to answer the following questions:

  • Is there a difference between baseball attendance in each month?
  • What months draw better? What months draw worse?
  • Is the pattern of better months and worse months the same for both the Rays and the four Minor League teams in the Tampa Bay area? Do they follow different patterns?
  • What can we learn about fan ticket purchasing behavior by looking at trends in average monthly attendance?

I have posted this before, but here are the Rays monthly attendance patterns from 2007 to 2014. In seasons where the Rays played regular season games in October (2009 and 2012), I have combined those games in September attendance.

(1= Highest drawing month of the year / 6= Lowest drawing month of the year)

Rays monthly attendance trends 2007 2014

Since 2007, Rays monthly average attendance has varied. But averaging the entire range, attendance follows this pattern from highest to lowest:

  1. July
  2. April
  3. August
  4. September/October
  5. June
  6. May

July is the greatest average drawing month for the Tampa Bay Rays. There are several reasons why this might be the case, from opponents to the cliched “kids are out of school” idea. There is also the impact of the Rays Summer Concert Series. April is heavily influenced by Opening Day, and August and September are usually dependent on team performance – if the Rays are in the playoff hunt, attendance is usually higher, if not, then attendance stays at May and June levels.

Here are the total monthly attendance patterns for the four Minor League Baseball teams in Tampa Bay from 2007 to 2014 – the Tampa Yankees, Clearwater Threshers, Bradenton Marauders, and Dunedin Blue Jays. We are taking all four teams together, although we can probably safely assume they draw from at least three different fanbases, with Dunedin and Clearwater having probable overlaps. In seasons where teams played regular season games in the first week of September, I have combined those games in August attendance.

MiLB monthly attendance trends 2007 2014

Minor League attendance monthly patterns have not varied as much as Rays attendance. This might be because winning and player recognition means less to Minor League Baseball attendees than it does to Major League Baseball attendees. So Minor League fans are more likely to follow the same attendance pattern year by year.

Averaging the entire range, Tampa Bay Minor League Baseball average attendance follows this pattern from highest to lowest:

  1. May
  2. July
  3. Aug/Sept
  4. April
  5. June

The following graph plots the Rays and the Minor League average patterns.

TB Baseball Attendance trends 2007 2014

This graph gives us some interesting insight. Here are a few key facts we can derive:

  • May is bad for the Rays, but very good for Minor League baseball.
  • June is a bad month for both the Rays and Minor League Baseball.
  • July is the best month for baseball attendance overall in the Tampa Bay area.
  • The beginning and end of the season draw similarly.

Does this tell us anything about fan behavior?

Possibly. It shows us Tampa Bay area baseball ticket buyers prefer Minor League Baseball in May and July. Our next step will be looking at those two months for promotions and attractions. Are attendance numbers skewered because of a certain promotion? We have talked before about the effect of fireworks, so 4th of July games may be a big part of July’s average attendance. The Rays don’t play many July 4th games due to their dome. What if we took away July 4th?

While Opening Day is a big deal for the Rays, it is not for Minor League attendance. What if we took away Opening Day?

I would be curious to see how other Major and Minor League teams trend. Are Tampa Bay ticket buyers unique in their behavior? If so, why? Might the dome of Tropicana Field be a deterrent in the “cooler” months of April and September? Might fans opt for the 72 degrees of Tropicana Field during the dog days of summer?

From here, we are going to dive into each individual Minor League team to see if one team is driving the trend more than any other. Again, this is the total of 4 teams in 3 different areas of Tampa Bay – Clearwater and Dunedin are close enough to group together.

We can also look at whether the Rays performance on the field has any effect on Minor League attendance. When the Rays are in contention, do less people go to Minor League games in August? Or does Minor League season end before Rays fans get excited?

All this research does is show us possible relationships. Although we can’t specifically say this specific fan bought tickets to this specific game for this specific reason, we can start to make assumptions based on the overall behavior of 2.8 million possible ticket buyers.

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