The Importance of Tampa Bay’s Hispanic Baseball Fan Demographic

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There was an interesting article in Forbes a few weeks ago detailing in what US cities are Hispanics doing the best economically. According to writer Joel Kotkin, Tampa-St. Pete was the second best city for Hispanics in Florida and ranked 12th overall in the country.

A bit about Forbes methodology:

We weighed these metropolitan statistical areas by three factors — homeownership, entrepreneurship, as measured by the self-employment rate, and median household income  — that we believe are indicators of middle-class success. Data for those is from 2013. In addition, we factored in the change in the Hispanic population from 2000 to 2013 in these metro areas, to judge how the community is “voting with its feet.”

Tampa-St. Pete was behind Jacksonville (1st), but ahead of Orlando (13th), and Miami (16th).

Last week, Jo-Lynn Brown of the Tampa Bay Business Journal wrote about the Forbes article and added the following map detailing the Hispanic population in the Tampa Bay area.

tampahispanicpopulation2018ersimapThe success of the Hispanic population is very important for baseball in Tampa Bay. According to recent polls, no other group in Florida prefers baseball as much. In a June 2014 poll released by PublicPolicyPolling.com, 88% of Hispanics in Florida are baseball fans. The second highest group are “Whites” with 64%.

Among Hispanics in Florida, the Marlins are the most preferred team with 41% of fans. The Yankees and Braves are second with 13%, and the Red Sox are fourth with 9%. The Rays are the fifth most popular team among Florida Hispanics with 8%.

The high percentage of Marlins fans make me think of the 672 total polled voters statewide, most of Hispanics polled were from the Miami area. Regardless of where they are from, the Rays should not be fifth in their own state. That’s unacceptable. They should be no worse than third, even giving room to the high percentage of Yankees fans in Florida (which we explored here).

As Tampa’s Hispanic population continues to grow and become more economically affluent, it will be increasingly more important for area baseball teams to target this market. Especially the Rays. The area’s Major League team should focus their efforts as much as possible on turning Tampa Bay area Hispanics into Rays fans.

A few ideas:

  • Open a Rays Store in Ybor City
  • Host an exhibition of area Cuban baseball players at Tropicana Field before a Rays game
  • Host a Cuban Heritage Night (not sure if this done already) with prominent Cuban Tampa leaders throwing out the first pitch
  • Start a shuttle bus from West Tampa to Tropicana Field a few times a year (on non-Yankees games preferably)

According to the US Census quick facts page:

  • Tampa population: 352,957
  • Hispanic population: 23.1% = 81,180
  • Baseball fans: 88% = 71,438
  • St. Pete population: 249,688
  • Hispanic population: 6.6% = 16,479
  • Baseball fans = 14,502
  • Clearwater population: 109,703
  • Hispanic population: 14.2% = 15,577
  • Baseball fans: 88% = 13,708

Total Hispanic baseball fans in Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater: 101,625

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