The Tampa Bay Rays hosted the Texas Rangers to kick off the MLB postseason on Tuesday afternoon, but it was not the raucous crowd usually found in a playoff atmosphere.
Attendance at Tropicana Field, the home of the Rays in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been notoriously low compared to other MLB teams for years. It is an outdated dome that already has plans to be vacated in 2028.
However, while it does not come as a surprise that a Tuesday afternoon game at “The Trop” was not filled to the brim for the postseason bout, the number on the attendance sheet was historically bad.
There were just 19,704 fans in attendance to see the Rays fall to the Rangers, 4-0, and the Game 1 crowd was the lowest attendance for a postseason game since Game 7 of the 1919 World Series in Cincinnati, per The Athletic.
The record obviously excludes the 2020 shortened MLB season, which had only a select group of fans present for postseason play at various locations.
MLB announced that the 2023 regular season saw total attendance of all 30 MLB ballparks hit 70,747,365 fans, which was a 9.6% increase (more than 6 million) from the 2022 regular season.
The Rays, though, had 1,440,301 fans in attendance for its 81 games at The Trop, which is an average of 17,781, which was 27th in the league.
Of course, big-market teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees (Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on that list) attract more fans per season because of stadium size and sheer tourism of visiting those ballparks.
However, there are other small-market teams — the Colorado Rockies (No. 14), Milwaukee Brewers (No. 15) and Seattle Mariners (No. 10) among them — that generate tons of fans each year.
Additionally, the Rays have certainly deserved love from its fans over the years, as the team has made the postseason in each of the last five years, including a World Series run in 2020. Tampa won the AL East two years in a row in 2020 and 2021, as well.
The franchise hopes that more fans will be in attendance at its future ballpark, which is a 30,000-seat venue costing $1.6 billion.
For now, the Rays will focus on its season not ending Wednesday, as the Rangers have a chance to move on to the American League Division Series with another win on the road.