Tampa Bay Rays Attendance Analysis: By Month 2007-2014 and 2015 Attendance Prediction

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Welcome to our latest examination of the Rays attendance by month from 2007 to 2014. This post is an update to the 2007-2013 post we did last year here.

First, a look at the Rays average annual attendance from 2007-2014.

2007 2014 Overall

Now, let’s look at the per game attendance from 2007-2014. From 2007-2014, the Rays average annual attendance was 1,616,668. This includes only games at Tropicana Field. The Rays played 3 games at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in both 2007 and 2008. The Rays per game average in the 642 games at Tropicana Field from 2007 to 2014 was 20,145.

2007 2014 Overall Chart

This chart shows the annual attendance ranking by month each year spanning from 2007 to 2014 as well as the month’s average finish. (ex: 1 = month with best avg attendance, 6 = month with worst avg attendance.)

(Yellow highlights = Best month/ Red highlights = Worst month)

2007 2014 Monthly Rank

This chart must drive the Rays front office crazy. There is no consistency. July is the best month overall, but has the highest monthly attendance only twice in the last 8 years. August has been the best month for attendance the last two years, but was the worst month the two years before that. As to be expected, good attendance in September matches playoff years (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013).

Below is a month-by-month breakdown as well as brief prediction for month in 2015.

April average attendance from 2007 to 2014. April average: 20,960.

This chart depicts the Rays attendance in April from 2007 to 2014 and the difference from the average April.

2007 2014 April chart

Most interesting here is that the three years the Rays April attendance was below 20,000 are the same three years the Tampa Bay Lightning made the NHL playoffs (2007, 2011, and 2014).

Common assumption is attendance in April increases in the years following playoff appearances. For the Rays that would be April 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014. However, because of the Tampa Bay Lightning, only half of the Rays post-playoff Aprils are above average (2009, 2012), and the other two (2011, 2014) are below.

Here is my research on how severely Lightning playoff appearances affect Rays attendance.

This graph depicts the Rays April attendance from 2007 to 2014.

2007 2014 by month APRIL

What to expect in April 2015: Below 20,000 per game. While the Rays revamped their roster after their worst season since 2007, the Tampa Bay Lightning continue to be one of the better teams in the NHL. The Lightning will make the playoffs again and their games will probably sell out and local TV ratings will be high. Meanwhile, the Rays will attempt to get fans excited about their new manager and new faces. That will take time.

May average attendance from 2007 to 2014. May average: 18,174.

This chart depicts the Rays attendance in May from 2007 to 2014 and the difference from the average May.

2007 2014 May Chart

May is traditionally the Rays’ worst month for attendance. May has the lowest average finish of the months since 2007. Perhaps this is schedule-based, as the Rays predominantly play non-division opponents. Kids are also in school, limiting family outings to the weekend.

Oddly, in 2011, while the Lightning playoff schedule extended to May, the Rays attendance was above average.

This graph depicts the Rays’ May attendance from 2007 to 2014.

2007 2014 by month MAY

What to expect in May 2015: Average (~18,000 per game). In three of the last four years attendance has been within 1,000 of the May average. There is no reason to expect otherwise.

June average attendance from 2007 to  2014. June average: 19,108

This chart depicts the Rays attendance in June from 2007 to 2014 and the difference from the average June.

2007 2014 June chart

Average attendance in June has dropped 33% since 2012. That’s not good. From 2009 to 2012, June attendance ranged from 19,500 to nearly 22,000. Since 2012, it has spiraled downward.

This graph depicts the Rays’ June attendance from 2007 to 2014.

2007 2014 by month JUNE

What to expect in 2015: Below average, but above 2014. Average would be great. The Rays have to stop the bleeding in June. Getting back to 19,000 in June would mean an increase of 5,000 fans per game. I’m not sure that is possible. Especially when the Rays play 16 home games in June, including 10 weekday games.

June might be when fans warm up to the team and get a good idea whether the team is worth their entertainment dollar. Last season the Rays struggled in June, starting the month with a 10-game losing streak. Of course fans found something else to do.

July average attendance from 2007-2014. July average: 22,494

This chart depicts the Rays attendance in July from 2007 to 2014 and the difference from the average July.

2007 2014 July Chart

July is by far the Rays best month. However, it has not been for the last two years. July was 4th in 2012 and 3rd in 2014. The Rays are at a disadvantage as they do not get the July 4th fireworks boost other teams get.

This graph depicts the Rays July attendance from 2007 to 2014.

2007 2014 by month JULY

What to expect in 2015: Below average. 20,000 would be nice, but I don’t think it will happen. The Rays play only 11 games in July in 2015. They play 5 weekday games  (versus the Tigers and Indians) and 6 weekend games (versus the Orioles and Astros). Unless David Price makes another return appearance, none of the visiting teams have significant drawing power. And of course, the dome-dwelling Rays are on the road on July 4th, so another team will capitalize on the fireworks attendance boost.

August average attendance from 2007-2014. August average: 20,550

This chart depicts the Rays attendance in August from 2007 to 2014 and the difference from the average August.

2007 2014 August chart

Finally, some good news. As mentioned above, August has been the Rays’ best drawing month for the last two years. This follows two years when attendance was not good in August (2012 and 2013). So what is the real August?

This graph depicts the Rays August attendance from 2007 to 2014.

2007 2014 by month AUGUST

What to expect in 2015: Average. If the Rays can maintain ~21,000 in August, that would be a good thing. Unfortunately, the Rays only play 11 games at home in 2015. That is the least amount of August games since 2007. The Rays host the Mets, Braves, Twins, and Royals in August 2015.

September average attendance from 2007-2014. September average: 20,210.

This chart depicts the Rays attendance in September from 2007 to 2014 and the difference from the average September.

2007 2014 Sept chart

As to be expected, September attendance does better when the Rays are in the playoff hunt (2008, 2010, 2011, and 2013). However, the relationship is weak and there are exceptions. September attendance was better than average in 2008 and 2010 and above 18,000 per game in 2011 and 2013. This is not a perfect match, as the Rays drew well in September in 2007 and better in 2009 (out of contention) than 2013 (playoff-bound).

This graph depicts the Rays September attendance from 2007 to 2014.

2007 2014 by month SEPT

What to expect in 2015: It depends. Projections for the 2015 Tampa Bay Rays vary. Baseball Prospectus predicts 87 wins and a playoff appearance. Grantland’s Jonah Keri predicts “somewhere right around .500”, or approximately 81 wins. If the new talent clicks and the Rays are in the hunt, they will probably draw 18,000 or more per game in September. If they are out of the playoff hunt, September attendance will probably be closer to 16,000.

Also of note: the Rays have never made the playoffs when their home schedule ends in October (2009 and 2012). So even if they are in contention, the “Post-season Excitement Bump” may not have as big of an effect in September.

October average attendance from 2007 to 2014 (Regular season only). October average: 19,605.

This chart depicts the Rays regular season attendance in October from 2007 to 2014.
2007 2014 October chart

The following chart breaks out all the Rays regular season games in October.

2007 2014 October chart overall

Here we see the popularity of the Yankees and weekend games responsible for why attendance was better in 2009 than in 2012.

What to expect in 2015: Again, the Rays have never made the playoffs in years when the regular season ends in October. If they are in contention, the series versus Toronto could draw well. If the Rays are out of contention 2015 will look a lot like 2012.

2015 ATTENDANCE PREDICTION BASED ON MONTHLY TRENDS

If the Rays are in contention

Based only on monthly trends since 2007, looking at the amount of games the Rays play each month, and using the PECOTA 87-win projection, Rays attendance will go up 6% to approximately 1,539,000. Better than 2011 attendance, but slightly less than 2012 attendance.

2015 Rays attendance projection 1

If the Rays are out of contention

Based only on monthly trends since 2007, looking at the amount of games the Rays play each month, and using Jonah Keri’s 81-win projection, Rays attendance will go up 3% to approximately 1,489,000. Better than 2014 attendance, but slightly less than 2013 attendance.

2015 Rays attendance projection 2

While on-the-field, the Rays are entering a new era, realistically we have to assume attendance matches previous trends. We’ve seen attendance when the Rays win 90, and we have seen it when the Rays lose 90. 2015 will somewhere in between.

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