If Rays fans were happy to see their team in their 2023 postseason opener, they didn't go to Tropicana Field to show support for a World Series contender that won 99 regular-season games.
Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series between Tampa Bay and the Rangers drew 19,704 fans. That's the lowest attendance for an MLB playoff game (in a non-COVID season) since Game 7 of the 1919 World Series, for which 13,923 fans gathered. Texas won the opener, 4–0.
To be fair, Tuesday's game was played at 3 p.m. ET, while most people were at work or school. And MLB announced the postseason schedule on Sunday, giving fans only two days to make arrangements.
Attendance at Tropicana Field is regularly mocked. But baseball fans and media still brought out the knives for the lowest postseason turnout in 104 years. Here's a sampling:
the Rays fanbase has to be the worst in baseball .…— 𝐅𝐑𝐀𝐍𝐊𝐈𝐄 (@FrankiesTwoLoud) October 3, 2023
19,000 showed up today … the lowest attendance in a postseason game since 1919
Here's some perspective on today's attendance of 19,704 at the Trop: according to @Stathead, it's the lowest (non-Covid year) attendance for a postseason game in 104 years. Last one below 19,704 was Game 7 of the infamous 1919 World Series in Cincinnati.— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) October 3, 2023
I would like to thank ESPN for waiting until the second inning to take a shot at the Rays attendance.— Danny Russell (@d_russ) October 3, 2023
The Rays drew the lowest attendance of any postseason baseball game for Tuesday’s Wild Card game since the 1919 World Series (Black Sox scandal).— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) October 3, 2023
There were just 19,704 people at The Trop.
Pretty embarrassing, even for a 3pm local start time. pic.twitter.com/tTbR7E64rW
Today’s Wild Card Attendance Rankings:— m (@matttadelphia) October 4, 2023
Phillies — 45,662
Brewers — 40,892
Twins — 38,450
Rays — 19,704
By comparison, the Twins drew 38,450 fans for Game 1 of their wild-card series with the Blue Jays. But low turnout isn't a new issue for the Rays. The average attendance for home games this season was 17,781, per ESPN. That ranked 27th among major league clubs. Tropicana Field's location is often blamed for poor crowds, but the Rays will soon get a new ballpark.
Game 2 of the Rangers-Rays series is also set for a 3 p.m. ET afternoon start on Wednesday. Will more fans get to the ballpark with Tampa Bay's season at stake? A loss would eliminate the Rays from the best-of-three series.