The Tampa Bay Rays sit at the top of the American League East, but they can’t seem to get their fans in the stands.
According to the Tampa Tribune, attendance at the Rays’ Tropicana Field has run at about a third of capacity for much of the early season. And this is happening in the midst of a banner year for the team, with a record of 18-7, which is ahead of both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
Many weekday games for the Rays have been averaging about 10,000 attendees, which is less than a third of Tropicana’s capacity of 37,000. According to the Ray’s Tropicana Ticker, which charts stadium attendance based on numbers from Major League Baseball, the Rays have only hit the 32,000 mark or above on three occasions this season, one of those occasions being Opening Day.
Low corporate sales and the relative remoteness and age of Tropicana have received the blame for the club’s sales woes, and there are hopes that a new stadium will draw more fans. According to the Tampa Tribune, local studies have identified three locations, two in Tampa and one in mid-Pinellas County, as optimal locations for a new venue.
With sales seemingly sluggish in the primary market, TicketNews recently asked sellers what trends they are seeing in the secondary market.
Dan Chandler, CEO of TriFectaTickets and its Web site Bubba’s Got Tickets, does not see Tampa Bay’s tickets moving on the market. “[Rays tickets] don’t appear to be doing very well at all. They are in the Top 100 tickets that are selling in the last few days, but what I’m looking at, it’s very low in terms of their sales output. In a three day range, they were the 15th highest selling MLB team in the secondary market.” With the Yankees predictably leading all MLB sellers in the market, Chandler notes, “The Rays are selling a tenth of the Yankees’ [sales] in our network.” Chandler doesn’t believe that the current economic climate can be blamed for this difference in sales.
T’Michael Jones, owner of TJ Sports and VIP tickets of Atlanta, GA, hasn’t seen much activity, either: “I haven’t received any inquiries about [the Rays]. I have people who inquire about the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, but the [Devil] Rays? No.”
Dick’s Tickets, a Tampa area broker, has a different perspective on sales during the early part of the season. As Business Manager Jason Krouth notes: “We’ve been selling a decent amount of [Rays tickets], as far as the price goes. It’s pretty early – the kids don’t get out of school and the season doesn’t really ramp up until they’re out. I think [ticket sales] will be good, if they continue to play the way they’re playing.”