Like Major League Baseball, most minor leagues take a break near the middle of their season for their All-Star Game. The Florida State League is no exception. This season, the Florida State League All-Star game was played in Tradition Field in St. Lucie.
For this site, the Florida State League All-Star break provides time to look at Minor League attendance trends and patterns. With Tampa Bay Rays attendance considerably lower than 2014 and at it’s lowest point since 2007, we can explore whether the same buying habits exist at the local Minor League level.
Of course, one big difference is marketed passion. While the Rays are targeting “hearts and minds” and want fans to be invested in the team, Minor League teams in Tampa Bay and beyond promote a good time for a low cost. They are generally accepting of fans who aren’t concerned with the team, the players, or even the score.
Here is a snapshot of Tampa Bay Minor League Baseball attendance at the 2015 mid-season point:
While there is some decline in two teams, no team is seeing a huge drop in attendance. Further exploration would reveal if teams with declines have played more weekday games or had fewer promotions in 2015 than at the same point in 2014.
For better insight, let’s look at attendance for each team at the same “Games Played” point since 2007.
As we saw, there isn’t much difference between 2014 and 2015 attendance. For most teams, there isn’t much difference between 2013 and 2014 either. The Threshers saw a slight increase at the mid-season point from 2013 to 2014 and the Tampa Yankees saw a steep drop in mid-season attendance from 2013 to 2014.
Pundits like to discuss how the Tampa Bay Lightning affect the Tampa Bay Rays, but perhaps Lightning playoff runs also affect the Tampa Yankees, albeit on a much smaller scale.
Each of these teams have an array of promotions scheduled for the second half of the season. Promotions and fireworks have a huge effect on Minor League attendance.
As we begin the second half, there is one storyline in particular that I am watching.
Will the Clearwater Threshers break the Florida State League attendance record?
The record for team attendance in the Florida State League was set by the 1989 St. Petersburg Cardinals who drew 202,383 fans. Last year, the Threshers drew 195,063, finishing with the second highest total in league history. In order to break the record, the Threshers would have to average 3,030 fans per game over their final 39 games. That is not an unfeasible goal considering their scheduled post-game concerts and fireworks nights.
Now that I have finished pulling attendance data from every Tampa Bay area Minor League boxscore since 2007, this will only be the beginning of the many posts we will have on area Minor League attendance trends and patterns.