There is no arguing Tampa Bay is a highly competitive sports market, especially in baseball. There are numerous baseball options Tampa Bay baseball fans can spend money on from February to October. There are four spring training camps, four Minor League stadiums, and one Major League stadium.
During Spring Training, each location draws near capacity. Then during baseball season, the brand recognition of Major League Baseball usually draws more fans than all the other options combined.
Most of the time.
On Wednesday, the combined attendance of Tampa Bay area Minor League Baseball outdrew the Rays for the first time in over eight years.
Due to several concurrent promotions, the Tampa Yankees, Clearwater Threshers, and Bradenton Marauders combined to draw 13,719 fans.
- The Tampa Yankees drew 8,865 to their Kids’ Day promotion.
- The Clearwater Threshers drew 2,791 to their City of Clearwater 100th Anniversary Fireworks Celebration.
- The Bradenton Marauders drew 2,103 to Fan Appreciation Day.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays drew 10,365 to their game.
In total, 3,354 more fans chose Minor League Baseball than Major League Baseball on Wednesday in the Tampa Bay area.
The last time local Minor League Baseball outdrew the Rays was 5/18/2007 when Roger Clemens made a highly publicized rehabilitation start for the Tampa Yankees. That day, the Tampa Yankees drew 10,257 and the Clearwater Threshers drew 7,649. The then-Devil Rays drew only 13,003, or 4,903 less than area Minor League Baseball.
Every so often, a Minor League team in a distant market has a big promotion and outdraws the Rays. This leads some people to think the Rays should move to that market. What those fans fail to realize is that promotion attendance is the exception, not the norm.
In this case, however, these promotions occurred in the same market, targeted to the same fans. If those promotions or teams did not exist in the Tampa Bay market, those fans might have gone to Tropicana Field. Those fans made a choice based on convenience, event, cost, or some other factor.
For those who don’t realize the unique competition in the Tampa Bay market, here is a list of the 11 Minor League teams that play within 30 miles of a Major League stadium. Four play in the Tampa Bay area, near the team with the lowest average attendance in Major League Baseball.
- In the case of the NY City teams, the Mets are the closer MLB team.
- All data was acquired via Google Maps.
- Distance in time is without traffic.
- Click to download the full list of Minor League team distances from MLB stadiums.