Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sternberg Says Attendance Numbers Will Hurt Payroll...Again

The Rays are in New York, home of team owner Stu Sternberg, which often means attendance questions.  And sure enough, we got them.

"I'm a little shocked, I'm a little surprised," Sternberg said, according to the Times' Marc Topkin (link to

Sternberg added he expected the Rays to sell out a potential Oct. 2 wild-card game, and "he was 'pretty certain' any subsequent playoff games at Tropicana Field also would sell out," despite another season of falling attendance that ranked the league's worst.
Without getting into specifics, Sternberg said there would be an impact on next season's budget, although a long postseason run could make up for the revenue shortfall. The Rays ranked 28th this season with an opening day payroll of about $58 million.
In many ways, its the same ole rhetoric from Sternberg, who has suggested doom-and-gloom payroll reductions for years.  But to the Rays' credit, these kind of concerns have been largely unjustified, as the team has been one of MLB's willingest since 2008.

Even Sternberg admitted in January, "we’re not going to be able to continue (this kind of success), even with a $150M payroll...but (new revenues) help to stack the deck."

He also acknowledged in 2011 that the Rays won't ever be able to compete with big-spenders like the Rangers (after they eliminated the Rays).  And better attendance would help...but he wasn't counting on it.

"If we won the World Series this year," Sternberg said at the time, "I wouldn't think my attendance would get higher. It didn't go up in '09 when we got to the World Series (in '08)."

So there should be no surprise from Sternberg at this point, and especially not shock.  He knows attendance will continue to slide for the Rays.  That's part of the reason the team gets $35M a year (give or take) in revenue sharing to make up for it. It's the system MLB created to preserve parity
As much as Sternberg has toned down the rhetoric lately - at least out of the Rays offices - there's little evidence the Rays need help (to their credit) either on- or off-the-field right now.

UPDATE: CBS Sports' Danny Knobler writes if the Rays make the playoffs, they'd be the first playoff team to finish last in attendance and would be the lowest-drawing playoff team in 34 years, since the 1979 Pirates drew 1,435,454.  Sternberg commented, "that was a fun team," in reference to the Pirates.


  1. Time for st.pete to support the team. It wont hurt st.pete if the Rays leave without paying. Turn the trop into a homeless shelter.

  2. "It didn't go up in '09 when we got to the World Series (in '08)."

    Way I remember it, we were in the middle of a financial crisis that we've yet to climb our way out of, caused (in some measure) by his former employer.

    You couldn't make it up.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. B. Dufala,

      Regarding your statement "If you actually followed the team, you would understand that this run of 6 straight winning seasons has only been done 2 other times in MLB history," is WRONG.

      It has been done hundreds of times.

      Please see

  4. Hmmmm.

    I wonder if the owner of the 1979 Pirates badmouthed his city and it's residents constantly, bitched about not getting blank checks and endlessly trashed the place they played in?