April is a great month for baseball in the Tampa Bay area. Not only do the Rays start a new season, but the four local minor league teams also begin play in April. While I have analyzed the Rays attendance by month for the last few seasons, I’ve never done the same for the Minor League teams.
Here we have the average April attendance for each of the four area Minor League teams. Also listed is the Rays April average and the total amount of Minor League games played in the area that year.
For the visually inclined, here is a chart depicting some of the above data.
The first thing we notice is the amount of growth. Every Minor League team has seen their April attendance increase since 2007.
- Marauders: +976 per game
- Threshers: +660 per game
- Yankees: +276 per game
- Blue Jays: +198 per game
Even the MiLB April average has gone up +434 fans per game. That’s a 30% increase since 2007. That’s significant and a great sign for the success of Minor League Baseball in the Tampa Bay region.
Another observation is the growth in April attendance since the Bradenton Marauders started play in 2010. While average April attendance increased from 1400s to 1500s from 2007 to 2010, since it has increased 20%, from the 1500s to the 1800s. Bradenton has become a successful Minor League town.
We also see an incredible growth in the Threshers attendance since 2013. The Threshers have been the most attended team in the Florida State League over the last few years and it starts with their success in April.
Unlike the Rays, who see attendance under 20,000 whenever the Lightning make the playoffs, no Minor League team sees consistent April attendance decreases whenever the Lightning make the playoffs (2007, 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2016).
However, since 2013 the Tampa Yankees April attendance has dropped 21%. It is possible this could be because of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Minor League April Weekday vs Weekend attendance
The next analysis is to explore the difference in weekday versus weekend attendance. We have noted that the Tampa Bay Rays see a significant increase in attendance on the weekends in April. Is this a trend for Minor League teams as well?
In a word? No.
The following chart depicts the total number of weekday games, the average attendance, and the total number of games played by Minor League Baseball in the Tampa Bay area per year.
This graph depicts the following chart.
There is a big bump in attendance from 2012 to 2015. I will have to dive into each team to see what the cause of that was. But in 2016, April weekday attendance dropped to what it was from 2008 to 2010.
Here is a chart of average April weekend attendance from 2007 to 2016 as well as the percent increase in weekend attendance.
The following graph depicts the previous chart.
On average, Minor League attendance goes up on the weekends in April. In 2016, attendance nearly increased 100%. Without digging into each individual team (perhaps in a later post), we can’t tell if this is fan behavior or because teams in small venues played more weekday games and teams with larger venues played more games on the weekend.
Of note, the difficult thing about analyzing a four team group is that season schedules change. Not every team plays the same amount of games at home in April every year. So while Clearwater draws 2,000 a night, Dunedin only draws 700 or so. If Dunedin plays more home games in April and Clearwater starts the season on the road, average attendance will be lower.
There is a lot more to do in regards to analyzing Tampa Bay Minor League attendance trends. This is just a start. But I think it shows some interesting trends, especially in regards to how popular Minor League Baseball is in the Tampa Bay area.