A few weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Business Journal published a very interesting article on their website. They looked at the US Census Bureau data and found the population trends of the seven counties of the Tampa Bay area. The TBBJ discovered the population of the Tampa Bay area is on the whole getting older, as each county saw an increase in the amount of over 65-year old residents relative to the amount of under 18-year old residents.
Here is the breakdown of the each county trend:
Here is the population breakdown per county in the Under 18 demographic:
Here is the population breakdown per county in the Over 65 demographic:
Overall, the “65 and older” population in Tampa Bay increased 10.4% compared to only 0.79% for the “under 18” population. The 65 and older population could be increasing due to more retirees flocking to Florida, or the general aging of the population – especially likely as the baby boomer generation ages.
For reference, here is a map of the counties of Tampa Bay. The counties with names in red are decreasing in younger population. All countries are increasing in older population. The red dot in Pinellas County is an approximation of the location of Tropicana Field.
This change in demographic makes things interesting for baseball teams in the Tampa Bay area. The Rays, Clearwater Threshers, and Dunedin Blue Jays all play in Pinellas County. The Tampa Yankees play in Hillsborough County and the Bradenton Marauders play in Manatee County.
There is a fear among baseball marketers that the baseball fanbase is getting older. According to many writers, teams are struggling to win new, younger fans. When 60% of the teams in Tampa Bay play in counties getting older in population and decreasing in young population, the challenge to win new fans grows more difficult. With older fans more inclined to root for older, more established teams, newer teams, such as the Rays, have a tougher time winning “hearts and minds”.
The change in demographic should direct strategies used to attract fans. Attracting older fans would rely more on events, experiences, and substance, maybe even creating senior “clubs” or discount memberships. These fans are less likely to change their allegiances to the Tampa Bay area teams, so keeping them engaged as members of the community and enabling them to have fun at the park, regardless of teams involved, is the key.
Some examples of promotions geared to the older population segment include:
- Senior citizen discounts
- “Senior prom”
- Wine tasting
- Seniors eat free
- Tribute days for VFWs, retired firefighters, etc.
These promotions can also be used at day games during the spring or fall while students are in class.
Examples of actions and promotions geared to win the hearts of the under 18 demographic include:
- Star Wars / Star Trek nights
- Park and recs / camp day
- Kids clubs
- Kids get in free days
- Sponsoring Little League teams, programs ,etc
- Appearances by ballplayers at schools, clubs, etc
- Use of mascots
As this demographic is located further away, promotions have to be more strategically implemented, used on weekends or summer months, when the under 18 demographic can be brought the longer distance to a game. Player appearances also have to be better planned as they require more travel. Time players can spend might be shorter before they have to return to the stadium for a game.
Baseball is a universal game, loved by people of all ages. The goal, of course, is to create fans and develop a love that resonates and inspires action. Like the demographics of the Tampa Bay area, that goal is ever moving.