1) We were a big part of the 28,000 + at the Trop last night. That is something to be proud of and I do believe a lot of that success was in the night we picked and some luck. The rain out in Baltimore gave us a Price v Sabathia match up (which certainly didn’t turn out the way we wanted). We also had the fact that many kids were out of school tomorrow which was a positive. Either way I think the Rays must have sold at least 6,000 single game tickets in the last 10 days to this game and I would like to think that even if they weren’t Top Off The Trop tickets, that we had a hand in creating some demand.
I will be posting a list soon of all the groups that were involved but all I can say is that I was thrilled and humbled by the support. What a great day. We sold about 2200 tickets which was more than our first effort. 4,000 (our goal) would have brought a surprise sellout but I’m not frowning at 28,000 on a Thursday. I know for a fact too that many fans used their Flex Pack tickets to attend this game or bought single game tickets outside of our “group” ticket offer for Top Off The Trop.
2) Don’t let Yankees fans persuade you that last night was anything but your typical Yankee crowd at the Trop. That’s all it was. It was the same number of Yankee fans at any prime time Rays v Yankee game. It just was great because it wasn’t weekend game. My take is always that opposing fans are always welcome at the Trop as long as they are respectful. Florida (and specifically St Pete/Tampa) has always enjoyed a pretty special connection with New York and of course that is going to show in these games. But all in all it was the same number of Yankee fans that were at Game 162 and the one Yankee v Rays game that sold out last year. Rays fans had little or nothing to cheer about last night and at times Yankee fans sounded bigger than the 5-6k of them that were there. I started to see a lot of negative spewing from Yankee fans on Twitter and I think it’s important for any “real” conversation to have some context.
As I pointed out in a previous blog a Yankees – Rays game is no “slam dunk” when it comes to attendance. Of the 9 Yankee games at the Trop last year (6 of which being Fri, Sat or Sun games) only 2 had more fans than last night’s 28k. Only one sold out. In fact the average game missed a sellout by 10,600 tickets. Last night was not a typical night at the Trop. It was a fantastic crowd.
Also tonight’s attendance will be telling if it is about the same as Thursday night (or maybe even a little less). (Friday ended up 2,000 less at 26k and change but also up against a home Lightning Playoff game)
3) This thing has legs: Last night we got a few second on Sun Sports with Kelly Nash. She’s personally excited to see what “we” are doing. After basically being panned as a failure last year by the media I avoided them to a degree. Media exposure wasn’t selling tickets, it was the personal reach of folks like K&S Wholesale Tile’s Keith Lisenko and Ferman Auto Group’s Debby Loper & friends. Also my life has been crazy and I really didn’t have the time. Having said that the exposure on Sun Sports was great. We gained new followers, it reinforced what we are doing and it acknowledged our effort. As I’ve said countless times probably the greatest thing about Top Off The Trop is that our effort is quantifiable. We know exactly how many people attended on our offer and I hope we get to do it again. People are also getting familiar with what we are about. People like the St. Pete Chamber were on board and made a real effort to help us out. It felt amazing.
Something I’ve never seen anyone do: the math when it comes to total ticket inventory each of our major league franchises truly has (roughly). The Lightning play 41 home games (capacity 19,204). Rays play 81 home games (capacity 31,042) and the Bucs play 8 home games (capacity 65,890).
When people always talk about the Lightning selling out I always want to talk about the additional ticket inventory the Rays actually have to move. The baseball season is a LONG LONG season but I think it’s only fair to put some of these conversations in context.
Bolts: 41 x 19,204 = 787,364 tickets in a season
Bucs: 8 x 65,890 = 527,120 tickets in a season
Rays: 81 x 31,042 = 2,514,402 tickets in a season
Rays have more than 3X the ticket inventory than the Bolts and almost 5X the inventory to sell than the Bucs. But no one ever brings this up…
I got a lot of texts/tweets last night from my Rays fan friends and friends who support other teams. How can you go from Sold Out on Opening Day to 11,000 people in less than 24 hours they asked? Some had even thought Tuesday was our Opening Day (“Can’t sell out Opening Day? Pathetic!”). I even got to take a typical dip in the Troll pool with this tweet:
TARGET FOR TROLLS
I didn’t respond. It’s a fair point. The contrast from Opening Day looked TERRIBLE. On TV it looked worse BUT Truth be told we knew it was coming. Let’s implore some logic…I don’t care if it was the 2nd game of the season; it was a Tuesday night game against the Blue Jays. Yeah sure some of our Canadian friends are still waiting for their homes to thaw out and probably stuck around a little later this Spring to see their Jays play – but not enough to make a huge difference. This was never going to be a great turnout night. We have to crawl before we can walk but let’s not go crazy just yet because a Tuesday night Jays game drew 11k.
WHERE WE CAN STILL PROGRESS
In the grand scheme of things Tuesdays/Wednesdays vs anything less than a top tier team (Yanks, Red Sox, Dodgers etc) are not going to be anything to write home about. In talking with some in the off season even Friday night games are going to become challenging to a degree within the context of attendance. SO when we first looked at the schedule we saw nothing but a rough start. Yeah it doesn’t help that the Lightning are in the playoffs. Yeah it doesn’t help that Tampa vs. St. Pete stadium talk has begun to isolate a few…BUT the real issue is a bit of that same old same old. Our Season Ticket base is small, and the Jays and Rangers don’t draw well at the Trop from visitors and those who have relocated to our region.
There is nothing wrong with looking at our attendance challenge strategically. That’s what we did this year with Top Off The Trop. We picked a game with broader appeal (Yankees) but it is still an off night (Thursday). We knew we’d open with the Jays / Rangers at home and than hit the road for 10 days. We are to a degree counting on some PENT UP DEMAND. My Point: We can still move the attendance needle and draw 11,000 against the Jays on a Tuesday night (I PROMISE). I know for a fact that many of our followers were SHOCKED to learn that in 9 games at the Trop last year vs. the Yanks the average game missed a Sell Out by 10,000 each night (AND 6 OF THOSE GAMES WERE WEEKEND DATES). So in my estimation a simple focus on Yanks, Sox and other high profile games could still pay a HUGE dividend in our attendance challenge.
Yeah it didn’t look good last night. Yes it’s a splash of cold water to the face to remind us our problems have not gone away. But it was just one game. Let’s continue to build support one fan at a time, one ticket at a time. Let’s get rid of the talk that divides and let’s unite over the biggest issue of all: Losing our team to another City. Montreal attracted nearly 100,000 baseball fans last week over a series of two exhibition games. Don’t think that didn’t send a message to MLB?