Welcome to our third post comparing Tampa Bay Rays attendance to the attendance of another Tampa Bay area sports team. This post looks at Rays home attendance at Tropicana Field while the University of South Florida Bulls football team is playing home games at Raymond James Stadium. These facilities are 21.2 miles apart according to Google Maps. Without traffic, travel between the two is approximately 27 minutes.
Since 2007, the Tampa Bay Rays and USF Bulls have played on the same day 12 times.
- 1 time in 2007
- 3 times in 2008
- 2 times in 2009
- 1 time in 2010
- 2 times in 2011
- 3 times in 2014
Of these, 2 occurred while the Rays were in the playoffs, both in 2008. Three of these games occurred on the Bulls home opener.
The following chart depicts the days the Tampa Bay Rays have played on the same day as the USF Bulls.
Highlighted blue boxes = Bulls Home Opener
Highlighted yellow boxes = Rays playoff games
D/N = Day or Night game.
“Rays Avg Annual Attendance/Day” is the Rays average attendance on that day during that year (for example: 19,452.31 is the Friday average attendance during 2007).
“% Difference” is the percentage difference between the Rays attendance during that particular game and the Rays average attendance on that day for the year.
(Click pic to enlarge.)
There are not a lot of patterns here as it is a small sample size with a lot of variables, but we can observe a few things.
The Rays have played on the same day as the Bulls 12 times. On seven of those occasions, they have had either a concert or a bobblehead promotion. Those promotions are among the Rays best promotional gimmicks. Of the remaining five, two were during the playoff run of 2008, two were against the Red Sox (one of the Rays best drawing opponents), and the last was the last Friday night game of 2014.
The 2008 playoff games played on the same day as the USF Bulls have lower attendance than the average playoff game, however, the tarped seats were not available during these games and not as many seats were available, lowering the maximum capacity at Tropicana Field. Our “Playoff Average” contains World Series games were the tarp was removed and those seats were sold.
We can also see how much attendance has dropped for both the Rays and the Bulls. On the Bulls home opener in 2008, the two teams drew over 82,000 fans. On the Bulls home opener in 2014, the two teams drew barely 49,000.
Also of note, tin 2009 and 2014, the Rays were far out of contention by mid-September. That may explain the far below average attendance numbers. Even though the Rays are eliminated, we can’t positively ascertain how many fans are opting to do the USF Bulls game, as their attendance dropped as well.
It is important to remember, attendance at a Bucs or Bulls game is not an “either/or” proposition for all fans. While the fans in attendance made a choice to attend one or the other, many fans stayed home and watched both games on their TVs or went to a sports bar. These fans chose to attend neither. It can probably be assumed fans who attend neither but watch both are in the majority in the Tampa Bay area.
(Note: Although college football is hugely watched and attended statewide, it would be difficult to compose a chart determining Rays attendance during Florida State Seminoles and University of Florida Gators games. It is easier for us to assume people in the Tampa Bay area made a choice to attend a game at Tropicana Field or Raymond James Stadium then to guess how many people made a drive to Tallahassee or Gainesville.)