Rays' On-Field Success Not Translating To Big Numbers At The Gate
The Rays are averaging the second-worst attendance in MLB this season, and there is "no ready-made solution on the horizon," as the team is "locked in a lease" with St. Petersburg to play at Tropicana Field through '27, according to Scott Cacciola of the N.Y. TIMES. The team "depends heavily on ticket sales to subsidize player payroll," and that has "cost them." The Rays' $62M payroll is the lowest in the AL, so they "have to be spot on with their personnel decisions." While the Rays began today just three games out of the AL East lead, they continue to draw "small crowds." It is a "continuing battle," and the Rays’ marketing department "has done yeoman’s work" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/11). Meanwhile, in Tampa, Stephen Nohlgren noted if TV ratings "maintain their present pace, Rays viewership for 2013 could finish among the top third" in MLB. But what is "less clear is whether the Rays will ever be able to cash in on that popularity." Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures co-Founder & CEO Chris Bevilacqua said that the Rays "remain on the outside looking in." Bevilacqua noted the Rays have several years left on their current TV contract, which was signed in '08 before "TV revenues exploded." He said, "Now they have an under-market deal and they have to compete with all these teams that have five times the resources." Nohlgren noted Fox remains the "only sports network with cable and dish channels throughout the region." It is "like the Rays have a rare antique to sell, but only one person might be buying" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/11).