The Tampa Bay Rays have started an unfortunate trend: for the second consecutive year the team finished last in home attendance.

The Rays’ average turnout this season 18646 fans per night probably will strengthen their argument that life at Tropicana Field is unsustainable and that they should be allowed to look around the region for a new ballpark. For now no one expects any movement on the issue until St. Petersburg elects its next mayor on Nov. 5.

“I think if we have a new mayor we’ll likely begin negotiations again and get something that finally moves the ball forward” said St. Petersburg City Council Chairman Karl Nurse who has endorsed mayoral challenger Rick Kriseman over incumbent Bill Foster.

“The problem is the mayor and the owner (Stuart Sternberg) have terrible chemistry” he added.

The Rays sold out the first of their two playoff games against the Boston Red Sox this month with 33675 fans showing up and they nearly sold out the second game. But that just put a Band-Aid over what had been dismal attendance for the regular season.

Maybe surprisingly the team that played the Rays in the American League Wildcard Game the Cleveland Indians finished just ahead of the Rays in attendance in 29th place.

The average Major League Baseball team drew 30444 fans per night so a typical Rays game drew only 61 percent of the league average. The Los Angeles Dodgers topped baseball with a nightly turnout of 46216 according to the statistical website Baseball-Reference.com.

The Rays also finished last in attendance in the 2012 season by averaging 19255 fans per night.

A team spokesman wouldn’t comment about this season’s turnout other than saying its tickets remain some of the most affordable in professional sports.

The poor attendance undoubtedly will come up as the Rays press their need for a new stadium. Signs indicate this offseason could be an active one in the stadium issue.