Rays' season ticket numbers don't tell whole story

8:31 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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PINELLAS COUNTY, Florida - The Tampa Bay Rays revealed for the first time Tuesday that only 300 of their 81-game season ticket accounts come from St. Petersburg, where Tropicana Field is located. The 300 full-season accounts total fewer than 1,000 season tickets.

But the selective stats, which do not include partial season-ticket packages, may not tell the whole story.

10 News reporter Preston Rudie asked the Rays for more information on the season ticket base, but was told the team didn't want to give out any more specifics.

However, in 2008, the Rays submitted data to the ABC Coalition indicating 47 percent of its season tickets came from Pinellas County. The team's Tuesday statistics included just the city of St. Petersburg, which makes up just 27 percent of Pinellas County's total population.

According to the 2011 statistics from the U.S. Census, St. Petersburg has a population of 244,997, while Pinellas County has a population of 917,398. Hillsborough County has a population of 1,267,775.

The Rays were making a point about lack of business support in St. Petersburg. The team said Downtown St. Pete was just the fourth-largest business core in Tampa Bay, trailing areas such as Carillon, Westshore, and Downtown Tampa.

In 2010, the ABC Coalition concluded the Rays' attendance problem was largely due to the fact that local businesses weren't buying season tickets, but there would be opportunity to improve if the team moved closer to the business districts in Tampa. 

Not only did the stats the Rays provided on Tuesday omit partial-season ticket holders, it also didn't include single ticket statistics.

In 2008, the team told the ABC Coalition that 25.4 percent of single game ticket buyers came from Pinellas County, while 25.0 percent came from Hillsborough County. Pasco County accounted for 8.6 percent of single game ticket sales, Manatee County accounted for 6.8 percent, and all other counties and states accounted for 34 percent of single game tickets.

The Rays told Hillsborough Commissioners last week of great growth potential across the bay, since 33 percent of their total fan base comes from Hillsborough County, compared to just 25 percent from Pinellas County.

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Read his Sports Business Blog at Shadow of the Stadium.

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