Rays End Home Schedule With Another Poor Showing In Attendance
The Rays had an announced crowd of 20,390 at Tropicana Field for their win over the Yankees yesterday in their home season finale, "bringing their total home attendance to 1,178,735 over 80 ticketed dates," according to Ryan Kolakowski of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The Rays had only 80 ticketed dates instead of 81 because of a single-admission doubleheader against the Orioles on Sept. 3. The Rays' average home attendance of 14,734 this season was the "fifth-lowest average in the club's 22-year history but a slight improvement on last season's average (14,259)." Only the Marlins (10,016) had "lower average attendance" in MLB this season. However, Rays TV viewership saw an increase this year, with viewership on FS Sun up 15% over '18 through 153 games (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/26).
ONGOING DEBATE: In Tampa, Solomon & Frago in a front-page piece write the "paltry support" for the Rays as they push for a Wild Card berth "reignites an argument ... that St. Petersburg can't support a big league ballclub." It is "once again pitting Tampa and Hillsborough County officials against their counterparts in St. Petersburg and Pinellas over where the future of the team should lie." Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan called Monday's attendance of less than 8,800 for a game against the Red Sox "anemic" and "incredibly disheartening." He said that the attendance issues are "hurting the region, especially as the team looks to play home games elsewhere." In June, Rays Principal Owner Stu Sternberg announced his intention to explore a two-city scenario, by which the team "would split home games between new open-air ballparks in the Tampa Bay area and Montreal." The team "needs approval from St. Petersburg city leaders if it wishes to entertain the concept" for seasons before '27, which is when the team's lease expires at Tropicana Field. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has "met with Rays leadership three times since the Montreal announcement" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/26).