The 99-win Rays hosted the first game of the 2023 MLB playoffs at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The team fell 4-0 at the hands of the Rangers to kickstart the postseason and set an ignominious mark during the contest.
No, it wasn’t the four errors Tampa Bay committed during the contest. It was the attendance for the game.
Tuesday’s game at Tropicana Field was one of the lowest-drawing postseason games that MLB has seen in more than a century. In fact, when excluding the 2020 MLB postseason, which had limited attendance because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the worst-attended playoff game since Game 7 of the eight-game 1919 World Series.
The White Sox defeated the Reds, 4-1, in that contest in front of just 13,923 fans. The light attendance has been attributed to the fact that the game was the Reds’ fourth home game of the World Series — which was then a best-of-9 showdown — and that Cincinnati had largely sold tickets in three-seat blocks ahead of it, per Jacob Pomreke. The Reds didn’t sell single-game tickets until a few hours before the contest.
However, attendance in Game 7 would be far overshadowed by what became known as the Black Sox gambling scandal. Cincinnati won the series, 5-3, amid claims the White Sox were throwing games on purpose.
With that said, the Rays shouldn’t be happy to be mentioned in the same breath as the Reds, though they exceeded Cincinnati’s numbers from that Game 7. And Tampa Bay will be hoping that their home games are better attended as they look to make a solid run in the 2023 MLB playoffs.
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Below is a breakdown of the Rays’ attendance for their wild-card series with the Rangers and how it compares to other teams across MLB.
Tampa Bay Rays attendance for Game 1
The Rays had a reported attendance of 19,704 fans for their Game 1 loss to the Rangers in the 2023 MLB playoffs. This was MLB’s lowest playoff attendance in more than 100 years when excluding the pandemic-limited 2020 postseason.
Tampa Bay easily drew the fewest fans to their ballpark among teams hosting wild-card games on Wednesday. The Phillies and Brewers saw more than double the fans than the Rays hosted at Tropicana Field while the Twins fell just short of doubling Tampa Bay’s total at Target Field.
Below is a look at the Game 1 attendance figures for each team.
Now, it’s worth noting that the Rays-Rangers game started just after 3 p.m. ET on a Tuesday. So that played a part in limiting their attendance. However, the Twins game started at 3:30 p.m. locally yet were still able to nearly fill up Target Field.
So, the Rays’ low mark isn’t entirely due to the start time. They will be hoping to avoid a similarly small crowd on Wednesday afternoon.
MORE: Full Rays vs. Rangers playoff schedule for wild-card round
What is the Rays attendance today?
The Rays are set to play the Rangers on Wednesday in a game that will once again begin at 3 p.m. ET. The Sporting News will update this section as soon as the official attendance number for that contest is made official.
Rays attendance for 2023
The Rays making dubious history to kickstart the MLB postseason shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Tampa Bay’s attendance has routinely ranked near the bottom of the league despite their recent run of success. That is, thanks in part, to Tropicana Field’s standing as one of the worst ballparks in baseball, a fact that the Rays are trying to rectify by building a new stadium in St. Petersburg by 2028.
In 2023, the Rays saw an average attendance of 17,781, good for the fourth-lowest mark in MLB. That was ahead of only the Royals (16,136), Marlins (14,355) and Athletics (10,275).
So, while Tampa Bay won’t be overly excited about the crowd it drew Tuesday, the Rays can take some solace in knowing that they exceeded their average home crowd for the contest.
And perhaps they will be able to draw better once their new stadium eventually opens.
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MLB attendance for 2023
MLB finished the 2023 regular season with a total attendance of 70,747,365. The league eclipsed the 70 million mark for the first time since 2017 and attendance was up across the board thanks to the average game time dropping to by about 24 minutes.
Below is a look at the average attendance for each MLB team in the 2023 regular season.