Wrongful as it may be, most of America assosciates the Tampa Bay Rays with one thing and one thing alone: having an empty ballpark. Yet as the playoffs bbegun, two things became clear: Tropicana Field was going to sell out for the Rays’ home playoff games, and the tickets would not have to be so cheap for them to do so.
According to a report from VividSeats.com, the Rays’ median ticket price of $145 for first round games is second among the remaining American League playoff teams and third overall. Their current opponent, the Boston Red Sox, leads baseball at a median price of $229. That Red Sox number certainly jumps out, and it makes you wonder whether the Rays’ price has been inflated simply by fans of the Red Sox being willing to pay more to get to the games. But then you look at mean ticket prices and it paints a different picture: the Rays’ $163 mean ticket price is actually third-lowest. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? One way to view it is as a sign that fans were buying ticket prices as they were listed, not jumping in at the last second like fans from another city might do. That $163 price is right around the average price that the tickets would have if three-quarters of fans paid the $145 price and one quarter paid the $229 mark, as a Red Sox fan presumably would be willing to do. The difference between the Rays’ mean and median ticket prices is just $18, the lowest among the playoff teams by far. The average was $89 and the second-lowest team was the Tigers at $51. The Rays’ ticket prices were not at all a product of a few higher-priced tickets shifting the average up dramatically. Fans were ecstatic to pay the Rays’ prices, and only the portion who missed the first wave of buying was stuck paying a higher price.
There definitely will be Red Sox fans as the Rays play their first playoff home game tonight at Tropicana Field. However, it will be predominantly Rays fans who showed initiative and excitement once their team made it to October. If fans have not supported their team enough at the ballpark over the course of the season, they certainly did so once playoff tickets once on sale. The reality did not change that Tropicana Field is impossible to get to at rush hour for most Rays fans in the area, but nevertheless fans will make sacrifices to see their hometown team in the postseason. People have ignored that the Rays were a top 10 team in baseball in TV and radio rankings all season in arbitrarily deciding that that the Rays have no fan support. But if they want to see proof that Rays fans will come to the ballpark when the motivation is high enough, this data about the Rays’ ticket prices is exactly that.