The Rays met with the Hillsborough County Commissioners today to discuss their stadium situation. Michael Kalt, who is leading the Rays’ quest for a new stadium, brought up a stat that has raised a lot of eyebrows (via Noah Pransky)…
“Eight AAA clubs have more fans within 30min drive of stadium than Rays”
One major factor in the Rays’ lack of attendance is that they have the smallest population in Major League Baseball living within 30 miles of Tropicana Field. And it isn’t even close. The Rays wanted to stress this point by also comparing the Rays to a triple-A club.
But there is a major problem with this. Unlike the Rays, many Major League Baseball teams have their triple-A affiliate very close by. In fact, eight triple-A teams are within 100 miles of their parent club meaning they often draw from a big league fan base. And the Braves, Mariners, and Red Sox are three examples where their triple-A team is just 35-45 miles away (you can see the mileage for all minor league teams as of 2011 HERE).
The danger in using this data is that the city of St. Pete can easily punch a hole in the data by saying “yeah, but many of those triple-A teams are in big league markets.” And once they discount that data, people may stop trusting any of the population data. And the population data is a huge factor.
The Rays would have been better off just sticking to a comparison among big league teams. That data is jarring enough.