New Tampa Bay Business Journal article on Rays business practices

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Alexis Muellner of the Tampa Bay Business Journal wrote a fantastic article on Rays new President Jeff Cogen in the January 29th edition of the TBBJ (subscriber or print only). Muellner sat down with Cogen to learn about his philosophy on marketing, partnerships, promotions, and how the Rays intend on increasing attendance.

Besides citing me in background data (shameless self-promotion), Muellner provides some interesting insight on the new Rays business:

“Cogen spent his summer vacation building more pace, urgency, and accountability into the Rays’ sales and marketing teams.”

I’ve said before that perhaps the Rays marketing needed an infusion. Processes had gotten stale. The Rays can’t market like other teams, nor can their methodology stay the same since 2008. Cogen is providing new eyes and new thoughts to the process.

“Of the 1.25 million in attendance in 2015, roughly 700,000 unique visitors came to the Trop”

I have a few problems with this. First of all, does it assume every fan who paid in cash was a unique visitor? I know few people pay with cash these days, but if they do, how do the Rays track this? Do they use facial recognition software at the ticket booth?

Anyway, so the average fan went to 1.78 games. Let’s do some additional math:

The Rays highest attended series was against the Mets on Aug 6-8. Total attendance was 80,468. If we estimate 50% of those fans were Mets fans, is it possible those Mets fans went to all 3 games or did they only go to one game? Should you count visiting fans among those who attend more than one game? Isn’t the job of the Rays ticket office to sell the Rays? How much do they market to opposing fans?

The problem with targeting opposing fans with marketing efforts is it a short-term relationship. Opposing fans aren’t going to have the long-term relationship the front office is trying to build. As much as they probably don’t want to admit it, the Rays probably don’t mind Yankees fans who come to the Trop a few times a year to see the Bronx Bombers. It is the reality of Tampa Bay.

But most opposing fans aren’t going to go a third time as Cogen states would be the goal. Unless they are attending a game each series in the case of the Yankees or every game in a series in the case of interleague opponents.

“did we just break 2 million? What kind of a story would that be?”

Although Stu Sternberg recently claimed he would need 2.5 million to “work”, the Rays have often stated 2 million in attendance is an ideal goal. That would be 24,691 per night. Even if the Rays sold out every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday game (40 games) they would still need to draw 758,320 on weekdays. That would be 18,958 per weekday. That would be 6,000 per night more than drew in 2015 and similar to what they drew on weekdays in 2010.

That’s quite a challenge.

Note: In 2012, I wrote a post for DRaysBay entitled “The Quest for 2 Million: 12 Ways to Help Market the Rays“. Hard to believe that post was four years ago. Here is a sample of what I wrote:

“I think the Rays need to be more creative in their pitches to get people to the ballpark. Everyone knows the economy in the Tampa Bay area stinks, traffic is a mess, and Tropicana Field is not optimally located. We know. We also know the Rays front office is smart enough to make chicken salad out of a payroll that could only afford chicken droppings. So why can’t they do the same for butts in the seats?”

According to Alexis Muellner’s profile of Jeff Cogen, perhaps they are finally doing that.

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