I missed it at the time, but on Tuesday, Shadow of the Stadium‘s Noah Pransky did an excellent job of crunching the numbers on just how many extra fans the Tampa Bay Rays could possibly expect to draw in a new stadium. The short version:
- Averaging 30,000 fans a game would bump the Rays up to the MLB midpoint, and would mean an extra 870,000 fans a year. But since that would be more than playoff teams like the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles, plus more than the Miami Marlins drew in the first year of their new stadium this year, that’s probably a reach.
- A more reasonable goal might be 23,000 a game, which would at least bump them up to 25th in the league, and probably closer to where the Marlins will end up in future seasons. But, Pransky asks, “Is it worth $500-600 million [in stadium construction costs] for 303,000 fans a year? If the ticket average is $25, that’s $7.5 million a year for the Rays. Add parking and concessions and maybe it’s $15 million a year for the Rays. Might just be cheaper for Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties to hand the team an annual tax credit.”
Of course, given that the Rays are turning an average profit of $20 million a year according to Forbes’ estimates, it’s worth questioning whether the team really can be said to need another $15 million a year, whether from a new stadium or tax credits or suitcases full of unmarked bills. Maybe Tampa area taxpayers should take up a collection to buy the Rays a centerfielder instead.