Tampa Bay ended its season Sunday in front of 15,815 fans, raising its average attendance all the way up to 15,403 fans per game - once again, the lowest in MLB. It was also the team's lowest mark since 2005.
That's a full 1,744 fans fewer than the Cleveland Indians (whose state-of-the-art stadium helped them average 17,147 fans this year).
For the Rays, the 1.25 million fans through the turnstiles is a drop of nearly 200,000 fans from a year ago, or about 2,454 fans per game.
Attendance has been a challenge for a lot of teams this year, but thanks to a 9,000+ fans-per-game boost in Kansas City after their league title last year, overall MLB attendance was flat from a year ago.
In Tampa Bay, my personal favorite explanations are the front office's self-fulfilling prophecy, the team's failure to be "cool," and of course, location location location.
But my WTSP colleague Grayson Kamm took a look at some other explanations too.
He looked at Florida's oldest-in-the-nation demographic and the stubborn allegiances older baseball fans still have to the teams they grew up watching.
He also looked at the competition from technology, such as television and cell phones. Columnist Joe Brown succinctly summarized that aspect this morning in the Trib: "The report also warned that a new ballpark won’t necessarily cure attendance problems because of the growing allure of high-definition TV and other digital options."
More adults are watching the Rays on TV than at the ballpark. And MLB's revenues will soon be dominated by media rights. Which raises a couple questions:Per @FOXSportsFL, #Rays games on @FOXSportsRays rank 1st for prime-time viewing in Tampa-St. Pete for average nightly viewership (4.2 HH).— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) October 2, 2015
Are MLB's glory days behind them as the fan base ages out of prime 25-54 demographics? And can the league attract young fans who seem to be more interested in selfies than stolen bases?
But in the meantime, Stu's busy celebrating his 10-year anniversary of owning the franchise...and busy not getting involved in the pivotal St. Pete election on Nov. 3.
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