New Rays promotion offers free tickets for club victories

Tropicana Field (Credit: Getty Images)

Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, constantly struggling to drive attendance despite often-competitive squads, have rolled out a series of new ticket offers including one that offers free tickets for Rays victories. 

The Rays Win Pack, being introduced for the club’s 2020 regular season, is one of three new ticketing plans announced by the club. In the $99 offer, fans will be able to select any four games on the Rays’ home schedule. If the Rays win all four games the fan attends, they will receive a voucher to attend another game for free. The Rays winning that bonus game yields yet another free voucher, with the cycle of free tickets continuing until the Rays lose or the regular season ends. 

The new offer extends a period of marked experimentation among MLB clubs for their ticketing, with teams such as the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners pursuing similarly unconventional plans. 

The Rays Win Pack arrives with a pair of more standard offers also pursued by many other clubs: a standard flex pack where lower-level tickets to five fan-selected Rays games are offered for $99 per pack, and a subscription-based Ballpark Pass that allows standing-room access to all Rays home games for $36 per month. 

“Affordability won’t be an issue, and never should be an issue, with attending a baseball game, and especially attending a Rays baseball game,” said club owner Stu Sternberg. “It’s already amazingly affordable. Ridiculously affordable. Amazingly, ridiculously, silly affordable.”

Despite the lure of cheap prices, drawing fans to Tropicana Field has long been a struggle for the Rays, as the club plays in a badly outdated facility located across Tampa Bay from a large percentage of the metro area’s population base. The club in 2019 ranked next to last in the league in attendance, drawing just 1.18m for the season, despite winning 96 games and advancing to the playoffs.

Such a divergence between winning and attendance has been common for the Rays largely since their 1998 formation as an MLB expansion franchise.

The Rays this past season also reduced Tropicana Field capacity to 25,000, lowest in the league.

Because of the club’s long-running struggles, it last year began to explore a more radical split-season concept in which it would potentially divide its schedule between Florida and Montreal. St. Petersburg, Florida, officials late last year balked at the concept. But team and league officials are still pursuing the plan for after the 2027 expiration of their current Tropicana Field lease.