Tampa Bay Rays May 2014 Attendance Review

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Last month, we explored the Rays home attendance for April 2014. This post will explore Rays home attendance from May 1 to May 31, 2014. In case you missed it, previous month-by-month breakdowns are covered here.

First, the overall figures:

  • Total May 2014 Tampa Bay Rays home attendance: 208,492
  • May home games: 12
  • Average attendance per game: 17,374.33
  • Highest attendance: 29,212 on Saturday, May 10
  • Lowest attendance: 10,555 on Wednesday, May 21
  • Highest attended series: 70,666 vs Red Sox, May 23-25
  • Lowest attended series: 33,181 vs Athletics, May 20-22
  • Competing area sporting events: Tampa Bay Rowdies home soccer games on May 17, 24. Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football home game May 24, and 25 area Minor League Baseball games.

Since 2007, May has been among the worst months for Rays attendance. May ranked as the worst month in 2007, 2008, and 2013 and has never been higher than the 4th highest month out of the 7 months of baseball season. Since 2007, the average May attendance is 10.61% lower than the overall 2007-2013 average attendance.

  • 2007-2013 Average Attendance: 20,475.72
  • 2007-2013 May Average Attendance: 18,302.4
  • Difference: -10.61%

We will be using this May difference when we calculate how the Rays drew in 2014 compared to past results.

The following chart shows the percentage difference between the mathematically predicted Rays attendance and the actual attendance.

(2007-2013 Avg = Rays average attendance vs specific opponent on that day since 2007. Calculated here.)

2014 May Breakdown

Rays attendance exceeded their past average five times (May 9, 10, 11, 22, 25). They failed to meet their past average seven times.

Let’s look at the two days the Rays exceeded their past average by more than 10% – May 10 and May 11. Both of these games were weekend games versus the Cleveland Indians.

Looking back at the calendar, May 10 was a full day in Tampa Bay. Besides being the same day as the Tampa Mayor’s Mac and Cheese Throwdown (Tampa), and concerts and festivals such as Tropical Heat Wave Fest (Ybor City), Taste of Pinellas (St. Petersburg), and old school rappers Rakim and Slick Rick (Jannus Live), there were also three minor league games played in the area.

For the Rays, May 10 was the Rays DJ Kitty hat giveaway. According to our past research on promotions, giveaways have provided a 13.73% boost per game since 2007.

Let’s recalculate the May 10 attendance accounting for the giveaway promotion:

  • Avg Sat vs CLE: 26,972.2
  • Prediction with May factor of -10.61%: 24,110.45
  • With average giveaway bump of 13.73%: 27,420.8
  • Actual: 29,212
  • Promotion Effect: 21.15%
  • Difference: 6.53%

As you can see, the DJ Kitty Hat giveaway was an effective promotion, exceeding the average May Saturday game versus the Indians by 21.15% more fans. The DJ Kitty Hat giveaway also beat the average promotion by 6.53%.

Let’s now look at May 11, which also exceeded the average expected attendance by over 10%. May 11th was Mother’s Day and the Rays again featured a promotion – this time a Mother’s Day summer hat.

Also interesting about May 11 is there were no other competing sporting events in the Tampa Bay area – no soccer, football, or Minor League baseball. The Rays were the only professional sports team playing in the Tampa Bay area that day. May 11 is the only day in May that happened.

Let’s see how the Mother’s Day hat giveaway fared:

  • Avg Sun vs CLE: 23,865.9
  • Prediction with May factor of -10.61%: 21,325.68
  • Prediction with average giveaway bump of 13.73%: 24,253.7
  • Actual: 23,679
  • Promotion Effect: 11.03%
  • Difference: -2.37%

The Mother’s Day hat was not as effective as the DJ Kitty hat giveaway. Although it did boost attendance by over 2,000 fans and 11%, the promotion had a smaller effect than an average promotion.

Comparing May 2014 with Previous Years

We will now compare the May 2014 average attendance to other recent years.

Rays May 2007 2014

May 2014 drew better than May 2013 and May 2012 and was the Rays best May home attendance since 2011. May 2014 compares similarly to May 2012.

2014 May 2012 May

Through Game 26

We can’t only compare attendance by past averages and overall months, we have to look at the trends based on where we are in the season. Currently, the Rays have played 26 of their scheduled 81 home games. The following chart depicts the Rays average attendance through Game 26 from 2007 to 2014.

2007 2014 through Game 26

The earliest the Rays reached Game 26 was in 2007 and 2008, where they reached Game 26 one day earlier than they did in 2014. The latest they reached Game 26 was in 2009.

This chart shows the Rays 2014 Game 26 average was below their 2007-2014 Game 26 average, with the current average of 18,692.46 ranking 5th of the eight years. However, the 2014 Game 26 attendance did exceed the 2013 Game 26 attendance by 405 attendees, despite the 2013 Rays playing more home games versus Boston and New York.

The following graph shows where the Rays 2014 Game 26 attendance figures compared to previous years.

2007 2014 through Game 26 chart

As we enter June, the Rays are mired in their biggest slump since 2007. According to many studies winning or losing affects Major League attendance more so than any other level of baseball. We will see how much attendance varies as the Rays take on the Marlins, Mariners, Cardinals, Orioles, Astros, and Pirates.

Based on past results, I would expect the attendance for games versus the Orioles to be the worst of the month. I would expect games versus the Cardinals to draw the best attendance of the month. Attendance for games versus the Pittsburgh Pirates will be the most interesting to track, as the Pirates haven’t played in Tropicana Field since 2003. The results then, like the teams, were not good.

  • Fri, June 13, 2003 vs PIT: 9,487
  • Sat, June 14, 2003 vs PIT: 14,063
  • Sun, June 15, 2003 vs PIT: 13,943

Like the Rays, the Pirates are much improved since 2003. Although I am not in the business (yet) of forecasting attendance, I will say with certainty the Rays and Pirates will outdraw their 2003 results.

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