Blog Entry

The Tampa problem (really, the St. Pete problem)

Posted on: September 28, 2010 4:11 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 6:48 pm
It sounds bad for million-dollar players to complain when people don't buy tickets to watch them. It's unlikely to convince any of those people sitting at home that they should go buy a ticket to watch those players.

That said, the Rays have a problem, one that has become more obvious this year than ever.

Baseball has a problem.

And while the Rays' decision to give away 20,000 free tickets to Wednesday's game against the Orioles is a nice way to fill up the park -- and keep some people from complaining about the critical comments by Evan Longoria and David Price, it doesn't solve the problem.

The problem isn't that there were only 12,446 tickets sold for the Rays' potential playoff clincher Monday night. The problem is that with a first-place team, one that has now been good for three years, a crowd of 12,446 is perfectly normal for a Monday night at Tropicana Field -- with anyone but the Yankees or Red Sox as the opposition.

With three regular-season home dates remaining, the Rays have drawn just over 1.8 million. But more than 500,000 of that is for the 18 dates with the Yankees and Red Sox. Their average crowd for the other 61 dates is just 21,130, worse than the Nationals and just ahead of the last-place Pirates.

When a last-place team has attendance problems, blame management for not providing a better product. When a first-place team has a problem, don't blame the fans, but you might want to blame the market.

When the Rays didn't draw under the Vince Naimoli ownership, you could blame Naimoli for the way he ran the team and the way he alienated so many people in the market. But under Stu Sternberg's ownership, the Rays have had winning teams, and have been fan-friendly at the same time.

Sternberg and his group have tried to get a new stadium built, because the Trop itself could be a big part of the problem. It's not a great ballpark, and it's in the wrong place.

Maybe a nicer park on the other side of the bay (in Tampa, rather than in St. Petersburg) would be better. But maybe we'll never get a chance to find out.

Even with revenue-sharing, the Rays' attendance problem means they won't be able to sustain the $73 million payroll that ownership authorized this year. It means that Carl Crawford is definitely gone as a free agent, and it means that it might be tough to keep closer Rafael Soriano.

Is that the fans' fault? No, but it means that no one can criticize the Rays when they drop their payroll -- and possibly drop in the standings -- next year.

You can understand why the players get frustrated, even if you wish they hadn't blamed the fans.

UPDATE: Check out the comments at the bottom of the St. Petersburg Times story linked above. When I checked, nearly half of them were negative, including a few saying that there is no way they would go even with free tickets. And these are the people interested enough to read about the Rays in the first place.

Category: MLB
Tags: Rays

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: February 20, 2012 9:29 am

The Tampa problem (really, the St. Pete problem)

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The Tampa problem (really, the St. Pete problem)

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The Tampa problem (really, the St. Pete problem)

Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 9:14 pm

The Tampa problem (really, the St. Pete problem)

Since: Dec 2, 2011
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Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 22, 2011 8:38 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: September 29, 2010 1:47 pm

The Tampa problem (really, the St. Pete problem)

the stadium is further away from its fan base than any other team in baseball..... fact.

the lightning have finished in the top 5 in attendance 5 of the last 8 years......fact.

the lightning play in tampa......fact.

the buccanneers had a home sellout streak of 100 games......fact

the buccanneers play in tampa......fact

put the stadium in tampa not south st pete an hour and 20 minutes away from it core fanbase...

Since: Apr 4, 2008
Posted on: September 29, 2010 12:57 pm

The Tampa problem (really, the St. Pete problem)

Not sure if you can pin this on the economy. That would mean only 10,000 people out of 2.7 million in the Tampa area can afford to go to a ball game. That would be truly amazing.

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