Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Marketability of the Rays managerial candidates

Over the last month, the Rays have been a very public search for a new manager. As mentioned by Cork Gaines, this publicness has given us a little bit of insight into how the Rays are thinking - what's important to the front office and what direction they are going.

Recently, we have seen the Rays put a lot of emphasis on building ties with the local community and fanbase. Many times over the past year, they have promoted their volunteer work, built playgrounds, pushed ticket package membership awards, and most recently, made sure they continue Joe Maddon's Thanksmas tradition.

Years ago, the Rays front office thought winning was the best way to build a fanbase. Of course, winning helps, but winning hearts and minds is equally important, if not moreso. Especially in an area with a sports demographic as diverse as Tampa Bay. The Rays have to provide incentive to be Rays fans. A bond with the community helps immensely.

There is reason to believe the Rays emphasis on community is also leaking into their managerial search.

Let's look at each of remaining candidates (pictures taken from the Rays twitter account):

Don Wakamatsu:

Kevin Cash:

Raul Ibanez:

We all know Don Wakamatsu has the most managerial experience of the three. He is the only one with any time as a manager. But Wakamatsu's profile is missing something. There is no mention of community. His profile only mentions baseball-related facts.

Of course, many might say that doesn't matter. What matters is what happens on the field. But besides guiding a winner, Joe Maddon was a big presence in the community. The Rays are probably looking for the same quality in their next manager. Someone to be a face of the franchise.

Which brings us to Cash and Ibanez.

As his profile says, Cash is not only a Tampa native, but a Tampa high school grad and a Florida State University alumnus. The profile doesn't mention Cash also represented Tampa in the Little League World Series in 1989, and according to a Tampa Bay Times article from 2005, his wife is from Gainesville and they owned a home in Tampa. Cash's local ties run deep. Marketing him to the local community would be easy.

While he would need time to learn how to manage and I don't expect him to be more mascot than manager, once he gets in the groove, expect to see Cash make many appearances in the area. He could kick off Little League Opening Day, appear at his old high school, and with thousands of FSU alumni in Tampa Bay, FSU Day/Night at Tropicana Field becomes a bigger event. As well, Cash could become a big part of the Tampa Baseball Museum, which is due to open in the next year.

(Disclaimer: I am one of the thousands of FSU alumni.)

Although he doesn't have Cash's direct Tampa roots, hiring Ibanez provides interesting, although different, marketing options. According to an article from January, while in Seattle, Ibanez was involved with:
  • The annual Mariners Care Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament
  • The Page Ahead Children's Literacy Program, which works to make books available to at-risk children throughout the state of Washington
  • Refuse to Abuse, the Mariners' partnership with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • The Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • Boys & Girls Clubs
  • Seattle Children's Hospital
  • Treehouse
  • Covenant House Pennsylvania
  • Project H.O.M.E.

Additionally, while not Tampa specific, Ibanez grew up in Florida, and attended high school and college in Miami. Ibanez's parents are also from Cuba and Tampa's Cuban baseball influence runs deep. Marketing Ibanez to Tampa's Cuban community would be easy. A few months ago, I mentioned the Rays should do more to reach out to Tampa's Cuban community. Hiring Ibanez achieves that reach.

Strangely omitted from this discussion is that the Rays don't actually play in Tampa, nor anywhere near the Cuban part of Tampa Bay. They play in St. Petersburg and will continue to do so for the immediate future. But perhaps employing Cash or Ibanez and exploiting their bonds will help win some hearts and minds over the next few years. Then in a few years, maybe, just maybe, if the team gets a new stadium on the other side of the bay, and if either of the two are still employed by the Rays, the organization can fully exploit those bonds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rays begin selling flex packs for 2015 season

I talked quite a bit about the Rays flex pack initiative last season. 2014 was the first season the Rays began selling the Rays Cards and associated ticket packages. From what we can gather, the flex packs sold quite well - over 20,000 as of May 15. They had sold 10,000 prior to the season as of mid-March.

Since the Rays sold flex packs until 7/13, and they sold approximately 5,000 per month for the first few months of the season, we might be able to estimate they sold another 5,000 between 5/15 and 7/13. That would mean the Rays sold 30,000 flex packs in 2014.

Not bad.

We also know 2/3 of season ticket holders use the Rays Membership cards and 1/10 of all tickets checked in were through the cards. That's a great start. Fans are getting discounts on purchases and the Rays are getting deeper knowledge on their fans' spending habits.

As of yesterday, 2015 flex packs are now available for purchase. It will be interesting to again chart how well the promotion does. Of course, gone is the flexing marketing muscle of David Price and Joe Maddon. Will the Rays use Kevin Kiermeier on the billboards to replace Maddon's smiling visage? What about Wil Myers? Chris Archer? Zobrist? Longoria?

How many new flex pack buyers will there be? How many will renew and merely add games to their old cards?

It would be really interesting if more than area sports team combined to make a joined flex pack. With the Lightning and the Storm also offering versions of flex packs, perhaps a user can put money on the card and use the same membership account number to buy tickets on any team's website. Call it a Team Tampa Bay Card.

This season I would also like to chat with a scalper or scrape data from StubHub to see how ticket cards are affecting the secondary market. With tickets bought on a card and not via a paper ticket, there is no ability to re-sell a ticket. No ability to re-sell means no scalping on StubHub. Right now, every game in the 2015 season has 236 to 224 tickets available on StubHub. Is this less than in years prior? Is that because of the flex packs or is it because of reduced or increased demand for tickets?

These are questions I would assume the Rays marketing team knows the answers to. At least I hope they do.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Change in the Rays Front Office Mentality

Last month, I opined on Rays owner Stu Sternberg's public comments on the environment of the Rays front office. In response to the departure of former front office employee Andrew Friedman, Sternberg said,
The level of confidence wasn’t that great to begin with. Year to year, it’s not that great. Given the hand that we’re dealt and how we go at it, it’s half a miracle that we get done what we get done and get to where we get to. Having said that, if Andrew were here and we weren’t having this phone call today and the Rays were just moving along, I wouldn’t have a lot of confidence that we were going to become a 90-win team next year like we had been for a period of time, either.

My opinion of these comments were that they were terribly timed and that saying the front office isn't confident does not give a warm and fuzzy feeling to a fanbase that is sometimes tepid. Especially with the stadium and relocation clouds swirling overhead.

Fortunately for the fanbase, we get a reading on the Rays front office via an article by Richard Justice on
"New challenges are invigorating, and I feel invigorated," new team president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said. "I think our entire department feels invigorated by this opportunity."


That's a word the fanbase needs to hear. Invigorated is a positive word. Fans want to hear positivity, optimism, hope, and potential. Those are ideas that sell tickets. Fans can rally around the idea that despite the setbacks, the team and the organization is still positive.

Yes, they still play in Tropicana Field. Yes, Tropicana Field is not perfect. Yes, there is hope in that department as well. But the reality is the Trop is home for the next few years at least. It is what they do despite their obstacles that gives hope.

And if the level of confidence drops again, maybe it is time to get some fresh blood in the system. Someone who will set up to the challenges and not get frustrated by realities that aren't going to change any time soon.

Maybe the change that happened was a change that was needed.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Attendance Review: 2011 Dunedin Blue Jays

Welcome to our 6th attendance review post on the Dunedin Blue Jays, minor league affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. This post continues our series of looking back at trends in area fan behavior.


The Dunedin Blue Jays began play in the Florida State League in 1987. After three seasons playing at Grant Field, the Dunedin Blue Jays moved to Florida Exchange Stadium in 1990. Florida Exchange Stadium is also the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays. The current population of Dunedin is 35,444.

Dunedin Blue Jays 2011:

Home Games: 69

Total attendance:  43,148 (up 16.86% from 2010: 36,892)

Average: 654 (up 13.54% from 2010: 576)

Highest attended game: 3,064 on Sunday, April 24th vs Daytona

Lowest attended game: 316 on Wednesday, June 1st vs Palm Beach

Low point of average attendance: Game 7, April 15th (577)

Double headers: 3 (Aug 11, Aug 25, Sep 2)

Cancellations: 0

Notable rehab assignments: Corey Patterson, Scott Posednik, Aaron Hill, Jayson Nix, Alex Rodriguez (TY)

Other notable appearances: None

(red highlight = below annual average of 654)


By Month:

The following graph depicts the average attendance by month.

By Day:

Blue Jays attendance increased 39% on the weekends compared to their average Monday through Thursday attendance.
  • Mon-Thurs average attendance: 547
  • Sat-Sun average attendance: 892
  • Difference: +39%

The following graph depicts the average attendance by day.

The following chart looks at how often daily attendance increases when compared to the day prior.

By Opponent:

By Starting Pitcher:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Comparing Rays Attendance to Tampa Bay Area Minor League Attendance2005-2014

Last week, I looked at trends in Tampa Bay area Minor League attendance since 2005. Since 2005, total Tampa Bay area Minor League attendance has increased 89%, from 249,125 to 471,212. Today, I want to add the Tampa Bay Rays attendance to the mix to see how the two entities relate, if there is any correlation, and find the total amount of people attending baseball in the Tampa Bay area from April to October.

Before I begin, let me address one issue that I know will be brought up. There is a belief that Minor League Baseball is an "inferior good" - that is, demand will go up when income goes down. In the Tampa Bay area, Minor League Baseball is vastly cheaper than Major League Baseball. While the cheapest ticket to a Rays game is $12-$15 dollars, Tampa Bay area Minor League teams charge between $4-$6 for a ticket. Parking at Tropicana Field and the surrounding area can cost anywhere between $5 and $20. Parking at area Minor League stadiums or fields costs $0 to $5.

However, this is an individual event comparison. When looking at the entire season, we have to look at the quantity of games attended. For example, a family of four could attend one Rays game for $60-$100. Or they could attend 2 to 3 Minor League games for the same price.

(Note: Most Minor League teams in the area have regular ticket discounts - sometimes free - and regular concession discounts that increase the appeal for area fans.)

For a family looking just for entertainment and not tied to the emotion of winning or losing, Minor League Baseball more times a year for the same price is a more cost-efficient option and gives them more bang for their buck. This is indisputable.

The following chart shows Rays winning percentage, Rays attendance, Tampa Bay area Minor League attendance, and the Rays percentage of total area attendance for each year from 2005 to 2014.

(Note: Although we are giving a cursory look at the relationship between the Rays attendance and winning percentage, I am assuming no correlation between winning and attendance for Minor League Baseball.)

Click to enlarge.

The following graph depicts the attendance data of the chart.

There is a lot going on here, so let's take it year by year.

2006: Devil Rays attendance increased (despite a worse record) and Minor League attendance also increased. Overall, Tampa Bay area baseball attendance increased over 19%.

2007: Devil Rays won more games, their attendance went up, and Minor League Baseball also increased. Overall, Tampa Bay baseball attendance increased nearly 4%.

2008: The Rays went from worst to first and won their division. As a result of their winning ways and team image, Rays attendance increased over 30%. Throughout the Tampa Bay area, Minor League attendance dropped over 10%. Due to the Rays vast increase, overall Tampa Bay area baseball attendance increased 22.5%.

2009: Rays attendance continued to climb, despite a drop in winning percentage. (Perhaps attributed to the 2008 buzz and afterglow, per Maury Brown of Biz of Baseball). Meanwhile, Tampa Bay area Minor League Baseball attendance decreased nearly 2%. The Rays attendance increase and Minor League decrease gave the Rays their largest percentage of total Tampa Bay baseball attendance (86.29%) in our examined time frame.

2010: The Bradenton Marauders began play in McKechnie Field. Across the Skyway Bridge, the Rays drew approximately 10,000 less people to Tropicana Field despite a better record. Lead by the Marauders, Minor League attendance increased over 21%, and the largest amount of total fans in our examination attended Tampa Bay area baseball, over 2.2 million.

2011: Minor League attendance again increased over 20%, led by another Marauders' attendance surge. The Rays attendance decreased 18% and the Rays' percentage of total attendance dropped over 6%, from 83% to slightly over 77%.

2012: The Rays winning percentage decreased, their attendance increased, and their percentage of total Tampa Bay baseball attendance increased. Tampa Bay Minor League Baseball attendance also increased slightly. Overall, area baseball attendance increased a bit below 2%.

2013: Rays attendance dropped 3%, despite a higher winning percentage. Area Minor League Baseball attendance continued to increase. The Rays percentage of total Tampa Bay attendance decreased almost 1%.

2014: Last season, Rays winning percentage dropped considerably. As well, Rays attendance dropped to its lowest point since 2007. Led by a 13% increase in the Clearwater Threshers' attendance and an 18.4% increase in Dunedin Blue Jays attendance, Tampa Bay area Minor League attendance increased over 4%. The rise in Minor League attendance and decrease in the Rays attendance gave the Rays their lowest percentage of total attendance in our examined time frame.

From 2005 to 2007, four out of five area baseball attendees visited Tropicana Field. From 2008 to 2010, this number increased to five of every six. In 2014, this number was barely three of four.

Minor League presence or popularity is not the only factor affecting Rays attendance. Far from it. There are many other factors to be considered, from economic to demographic to marketing efforts (2006?, 2008?) to considerable swings in their winning percentage (2008?, 2014?). This site will look at all these factors in time. However, based on this study, we can definitely say Tampa Bay area Minor League Baseball has had some impact on the attendance of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Response to Dan Drezner’s "Tampa Bay Rays / President Obama"Comparison

Ever since I started reading blogs, I’ve been a fan of Professor Dan Drezner. Through three or more locations, his blogging on International Affairs and politics has given me some interesting food for thought on numerous occasions. I remember reading his zombie posts before they were a book and reviewed his “International Affairs and Zombies" book on my personal blog.

I even wrote him for career advice.

So it was with great curiosity yesterday that I read his “Meet Barack Obama, the Tampa Bay Rays of Presidents” post on the Washington Post website. In an attempt to describe the 2014 midterm elections, Drezner uses the Rays as an analogy for President Obama. According to Drezner, the Rays were a good team, hence people should have gone to their games and likewise, the US has had some success in recent years, hence people should have cut the President’s party more slack instead of bouncing many of them out of office.

Makes sense on paper.

Unfortunately, there are problems with this analogy. Drezner almost identifies one problem without even knowing it. In the second paragraph of his post, Drezner writes “As a diehard Boston Red Sox fan, I have come to loathe the Rays.”

Drezner is from the New England area and currently teaches at Tufts University. He is a Boston sports fan. I am sure no matter where he lives or teaches, be it at the University of Chicago, the University of Colorado, or anywhere else his career takes him, he will always be a Red Sox fan.

Even if he lived in the Tampa Bay area.

Even if the Rays went 162-0.

No amount of Rays victories would sway Dan Drezner to give up his Boston allegiances, buy Rays season tickets, don a Rays hat, and ring a cowbell. As a matter of fact, if he lived in the Tampa Bay area, Drezner might hate the Rays even more.

To use a Foreign Policy analogy, as a Red Sox fan, Drezner would be an irrational actor in the Tampa Bay area. A rational actor would root for the team that provided the most emotional satisfaction for the lowest cost - in other words, the team that had cheaper tickets and won more games.

(Note: in the seven seasons since 2008, the Rays have had a better record than the Red Sox five times.)

But fans are not rational. If they were, there would be no Chicago Cubs or New York Mets fans.

Unfortunately, US politics has become – or always has been, depending on who you ask – a team-viewed affair. The “Us” vs “Them” narrative is preached by parties and the cable news media (looking at you, Fox and MSNBC). In a perfect world, all voters would look at the facts, and vote on accomplishments or potential, and not along party line.

But that’s not reality. Remember, some fans only vote for their favorite team’s players on their All-Star ballots. If he lived in the Tampa Bay area, Drezner would probably vote for David Ortiz. He might even vote Brock Holt over Evan Longoria.

Beyond the “rational” and “irrational” argument, the foundation Drezner bases his analogy on is not entirely correct. He repeats the well-used idea that winning equals attendance. In some cases, yes, it does. There is evidence to that effect. According to economist J.C. Bradbury,
(A) 0.1 increase in winning percentage (e.g., going from .500 to .600 team) is associated with increasing season attendance by about 170,000 fans per year, or about 2,000 fans per game.

But – and here is the problem - Bradbury and Drezner assume an established fanbase. In 2008, Professor Michael Davis of the Missouri University of Science and Technology studied the link between winning and attendance for several Major League teams. While he found there was a correlation, he stated one huge disclaimer:
(O)ne way in which these teams are not representative is that they were the teams that were able to survive in their markets for a long time. The teams that chose to relocate or were expansion teams might exhibit a different set of behaviors.

In 1998, when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays started play, the Tampa Bay area was not an empty slate for baseball. Much of the population was already biased due to Spring Training, the Florida State League, Super Station broadcasts, or allegiances brought from other markets. Keep in mind, in 2000, 8% of Florida residents were from New York and 8% were from other states in the Northeast. Many of them were baseball fans before they got to Florida.

To use a political analogy, there are strong Republican states and strong Democratic states. Then there are swing states, where personality, results, and marketing have more sway. The idea that the Devil Rays’ presence would automatically create a robust fanbase assumed Tampa Bay was an easily won “swing state” for baseball.

Now, with a mix of a good product and good marketing, the Rays can win the easily swayed fan, but what about the ardent supporter of another philosophy? What about the Tampa Bay resident who passes a non-native philosophy to their children? What about the resident who roots for the Yankees and visits Steinbrenner Field in the heart of Tampa every spring? The Rays could take an ISIS-like approach and destroy or attack “infidels” in their area. Or they could build a coalition of the willing among local businesses, charities, and organizations; deepen the bonds they have with local supporters; and try to win hearts and minds one at a time.

Am I missing anything?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tampa Bay Area Minor League Baseball Attendance Trends 2005-2014

Today we will look at the trends of each Tampa Bay Minor League team over the last 10 years.

Since 2005, attendance for Minor League Baseball in the Tampa Bay area has increased 89%. Total attendance in 2014 was 222,087 fans higher than 2005's total attendance.

After a slight drop in 2008 and 2009, Minor League Baseball in Tampa Bay has soared in popularity. Although a considerable part of the 2010 gain is the addition of the Bradenton Marauders, the rest of the teams in the area have also seen steady increases over the last 10 years. As we will see in later charts, Bradenton attendance not only bumped attendance in 2010, but also in 2011. Since the creation of the Marauders, total area Minor League attendance has increased every year.

Let's look at each team in alphabetical order by city.

Bradenton Marauders 2010-2014

After their incredible increase from 2010 to 2011, Marauders' attendance has been relatively stable from 2011 to 2014. The following graph depicts the Marauders' attendance trend since 2010.

Clearwater Threshers 2005-2014

In 2014, the Threshers had the second highest total attendance in Florida State League history. Their 13% increase from 2013 could be greatly attributed to their increased promotional schedule, with post-game concerts, firework nights, and other promotions. Before 2014, Threshers attendance had seen small gains most years since 2007.

The following graph depicts the Threshers steady attendance gain.

Dunedin Blue Jays 2005-2014

Although the Blue Jays are the lowest attended team in the Tampa Bay area as well as the Florida State League, they have seen a 33% increase in total attendance since 2005. The Blue Jays did very well in 2014 with their 3rd year of double-digit attendance increases in the last 4 years.

The following graph depicts the Dunedin Blue Jays attendance trends from 2005 to 2014.

Tampa Yankees 2005-2014

The Tampa Yankees have also seen incredible attendance growth since 2005. After a drastic drop in attendance in 2008, the team has had attendance gains in 4 of the last 6 years. Since 2011, they have maintained attendance between 110,000 and 120,000.

The following graph depicts the Tampa Yankees attendance trends since 2005.

Minor League Baseball in the Tampa Bay area continues to be well-supported and a steady entertainment option for Tampa Bay residents. In later posts, we will examine the relationships between Tampa Bay area Minor League Baseball attendance and Major League attendance. We will also include Spring Training attendance to see how many people (tourists and all) watch live baseball in the Tampa Bay area in a given year.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Another Boogeyman Dance and the idea of the Rays in the National League

Although the baseball season is officially over for all 30 teams, a few national sports writers are still opining on the national pastime. And although we have put to death the Montreal Boogeyman, some writers are still digging him up.

Two articles were published last weekend that discussed the Rays situation both in their market and of course, with their stadium. Let's look at them individually:

Over at the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo not only digs up the Montreal Boogeyman, he makes him dance the congo like Weekend at Bernie's.

Dismissing the Tampa Bay market? Check.

Talking up how great Montreal would be without any economic facts on either city? Check.

Anonymous sources? Check.

Dance, Boogeyman, dance.

But Cafardo does bring up one interesting point. In particular, he mentions Florida's Latino population as a key element in the Rays future.
The Rays have never fully taken advantage of a potential Latino fan base. Twenty percent of the Tampa population is Latino, yet the biggest Latino star they’ve had is Jose Canseco? Remember when Canseco hit 31 homers by the All-Star break in 1999? But that didn’t move the attendance needle, either.

But where is Cafardo's evidence here? Where are his demographic numbers? What is he basing this on? Is that 20% of Tampa or 20% of Tampa Bay? Big difference.

I would also argue Carlos Pena was a much bigger and more relevant "Latino star" to the Rays than Jose Canseco. And I think the Rays absolutely need to bring Carlos Pena back and put him in Community Relations. The same position Orestes Destrade had before he moved to media.

Fact: In 1999, the then-Devil Rays were a 99-loss team. By the All-Star Break (Game 88), they had already lost 49 games. Does Cafardo think Latino baseball fans are that blinded by star power that they would clamor over Canseco and watch a terrible on-field product? That's seems terribly dismissive to me. Almost insulting.

Would a Cuban born star be nice for the Rays to have? Sure. Especially if he was Tampa born. Imagine if Jose Fernandez played for the Rays instead of the Marlins. But while ethnicity is nice, ganar es mas importante (winning is more important).

The second Rays-related article this weekend came from Howard Megdal of USA Today. Megdal is much smarter on baseball in Tampa Bay than Cafardo (Ed note: I've exchanged tweets with Megdal. He digs the site.). Megdal mentions the lease on the Trop, the new upcoming TV deal, and he is all for keeping baseball in Tampa Bay.

But he has a very interesting idea, one that while I don't think would never pass the MLB vote, could kick start a discussion.

Megdal proposes drastic, almost NBA-like, re-alignment in MLB. This re-alignment includes, but is not limited to, putting the Rays in an NL South Division with the Astros, Braves, and Marlins. He also juggles some of the owners around MLB to placate the haggling.
So Tampa Bay, with little tradition keeping it to the AL, gets a new stadium, new owners presumably free of area fatigue and a new start in a division with an in-state rival, the Marlins. The Braves aren't far away, either.

It is a multi-billion dollar idea with expansion teams and several new stadiums that reads almost like a 10-year plan. Which by then, the Rays stadium issue might be solved no matter who the owner is.

But moving the Rays to the National League is an interesting idea. One definitely worth exploring.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Effect of Fireworks on Tampa Bay area baseball attendance in 2014

One of the most used promotions in Minor League Baseball is Fireworks Night. Across the country, teams use big fireworks displays for holidays such as Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, or even Opening Day. Some teams also use smaller fireworks displays more regularly.

Over at, Brett McGinness of the Reno Aces wrote about the effect of fireworks on Triple-A attendance. McGinness concluded fireworks added 2,041 fans to games scheduled on Monday through Thursday, 2,294 people to Friday games, and 3,126 additional people on Saturday games.

Unfortunately, McGinness doesn't tell us the percentage attendance increased by. Was it 400%? 100%? 25%? 2,000 to 3,000 people is a lot, but could the weekday attendance been doubled because of fireworks? That would be good to know.

In the Tampa Bay area, Florida State League teams use fireworks quite often. Each of the four area minor league teams used the promotion at least twice. The Marauders and Blue Jays each blasted fireworks twice, the Tampa Yankees seven times, and the Clearwater Threshers an explosive 10 times.

The following chart shows each Tampa Bay area Florida State League team, when they held a post-game fireworks promotion, the attendance for the event, average attendance for that day, and the percentage change of attendance.

As to be expected, each team had a fireworks display on or immediately before the Fourth of July. For the Yankees and Threshers, June 21st was a popular day for fireworks as was August 23rd. August 23rd was the last Saturday of both teams' season.

Overall, fireworks added 1,258 people per game to attendance, an increase of 43%. While we know the two Triple-A leagues discussed by McGinness draw more than the Florida State League, I would be curious to know if fireworks have a bigger effect in Tampa Bay than in other places.

The following charts break out attendance for fireworks promotions by team.

Both the Blue Jays and Marauders saw similar impact. They both hosted two fireworks promotions, both saw over 200% increase on their Independence Day celebration, and both saw 20-30% attendance increase on their non-Independence Day fireworks promotion. The Marauders saw an average gain of 1,870 per fireworks promotion and the Blue Jays saw an average gain of 1,659 fans.

The Tampa Yankees saw an average increase of 1,242 fans per fireworks promotion. The Yankees had two games with over an 100% increase in attendance due to fireworks. While the Yankees also paired their fireworks events with other promotions, such as the Mariano Rivera bobblehead on June 7 or Opening Day on April 4, their biggest impact was on their Independence Day promotion. Like the Marauders and Blue Jays, also had a game that saw an increase in the 20-30% range. But they had one fireworks promotion game, on June 21, that drew less than average. Let's look at June 21.

There was a lot going on on June 21. The Tampa Yankees played, as did the Rays, Threshers, Dunedin Blue Jays, and the Tampa Bay Storm arena football team. A total of 35,638 people in the Tampa Bay area went to see sporting events that day.

The Clearwater Threshers saw the smallest impact from fireworks at 1,067 fans per game. However, the Threshers did almost as many fireworks promotions than all other teams combined. They hosted fireworks 10 times and on 8 of their 10 Saturday games. The Threshers biggest fireworks impact was on their Independence Day promotion, which also marked their highest attendance for the year. It is possible the high volume of Threshers fireworks events reduced their rarity and their attendance impact.

We can also see which day was best affected by fireworks. Remember, in the Triple-A leagues, Saturday was the best, followed by Friday, then the weekdays.

Among the Tampa Bay area Florida State League teams, we see the exact opposite. Thursday fireworks night did the best, followed by Friday, then Saturday. Of course, there is a very small sample size on Thursday, only the Independence Day celebrations of the Marauders, Threshers, and Yankees. Friday fireworks was helped by the Dunedin Blue Jays Independence Day celebration, but was still over 100% two other times for two other teams.

Between the Yankees and the Threshers, attendance for Saturday fireworks promotions increased 366 fans per game. That's not as good.

A quick Google search reveals the cost of a small 15-20 minute fireworks exhibit is $3,000 to $5,000. If baseball teams in the Tampa Bay area are getting a similar deal, in order to cover the cost of an exhibit, a team would need to draw 500 to 834 more fans per game with the cost of tickets at $6 per seat. Overall, each team covered that cost, helped greatly by their Independence Day galas.

Playing in a dome, the Rays can't have post-game fireworks, which might explain why they have only had six home July 4th dates in their 17-year franchise history. MLB schedule makers are not stupid and they are not going to leave money on the table.

The Rays did try indoor fireworks several times in 2010. They have not tried the promotion since. If we expanded this study to other Major League teams, we might be able to extrapolate how much attendance the Rays are losing out on by playing in a facility that does not allow fireworks. From looking at the Tampa Bay area Minor League teams, we can estimate the Rays would see a bump in attendance between 20% and 100% if they could fill the night sky with fireworks.