"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Home Alone

The Rays are good, really good. But their park is empty. Ken Belson has the depressing details in the Times.


1 rbj   ~  Sep 29, 2010 9:39 am

The recession may be "officially" over, but it's still around. There are houses on my block that now have been on sale for two years. Unemployment is over 10%.

But I did go to as many Mud Hens games as usual. Though it helps that tickest are $9 and 32 oz. beers are $7. I shudder to see what the prices are for NFL games.

2 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 29, 2010 10:06 am

That article is terrible. Rob Neyer has a great takedown of it. To me, the worst part is this: "The trouble may not be the stadium, but that the Rays are a relatively new team (they began play in 1998) in a city hit hard by the recession that has many alternatives to attending a game."

Bullshit. Has anyone here ever been there? Tropicana Field is in "Tampa Bay", for sure, but its not in Tampa - its across the Bay in St. Petersburg. It takes at least a half hour to drive from Steinbrenner Field - which is almost near the heart of Tampa - to Tropicana Field. The location is horrific. The place is ugly, a bad place to watch a game, and for all intents and purposes, in the middle of nowhere.

The recession is not over, AFAIC, but when it comes to the Rays and attendance, its location location location.

I also can't believe the article didn't mention any of the studies that show that the bump in attendance from winning/going to the postseason for the first time in a long time comes the year AFTER, not during.

3 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 29, 2010 10:41 am


I know I shouldn't do this ... but I just wanna say "I agree with this 100%"

4 Dimelo   ~  Sep 29, 2010 11:03 am

[2] I went to a game there this year, it was against the Red Sox, I think the Rays got swept that series in June at the Trop. Anyhow, that f'ing place is depressing. I was staying in Tampa and driving to St. Pete is a nightmare, the area around the park is not the greatest and the night was really cool -- not the usual Florida June heat and lightening storms.

They need a better stadium, retractable preferably and it should be in Tampa, Ybor city would be a perfect area for a stadium or some area that offers another dimension other than baseball.

Most professionals work in Tampa, think about having to drive home after work, pick up the family and then to head off to St. Pete.

5 Dimelo   ~  Sep 29, 2010 11:05 am

BTW, the Trop did have one of the Po'-boy sandwiches I've ever had. I was pleasantly surprised.

6 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 29, 2010 11:22 am

[2] Well, the Rays gate did decline after making the World Series in 2008, so the lack of a bump is not misstated. Having said that, I agree about the location being inconvenient, but is it really the reason for only attracting 23,000 fans per game? It's not like the area is being chided for not selling out.

A new stadium, preferably one with access to public transportation, would be a huge help, but I think there are certain unique characteristrics of the central Florida demographic that might also be fctoring into the equation. As a result, it could take some time for the Rays to truly gain traction. Sternberg knew what he was getting into, so it is a little surprising to see him cry poverty now.

7 OldYanksFan   ~  Sep 29, 2010 2:22 pm

[2] "its location location location."
Well... would you consider the Bronx a nice location? Easy to get to? Lots of other stuff to do nearby?

And how many Yankee fans from all over NY travel 2 hours or more to attend a game? And usually at great $$ expense?

Sure... a better location would help, but it won't solve the problem. I don't know how the Marlins do for attendance, but I just have to guess fans in the TB area are not that interested in baseball.

Possibly a stdium on I-4 NorthEast of Tampa, like Lakeland, might draw from Orlando, Kissimmee and/or other Ease Coast areas?

Certainly, if you are going to spend 10s of, or 100s of millions on a stadium, making it multiuse, or having other facilities near by might be nice.

8 Dimelo   ~  Sep 29, 2010 2:37 pm

[7] It's population density, in NYC we have mass transit, the people who come by car and far away places don't really count in this instance. You just can't accommodate everyone, but you can accommodate a core of your fan-base. So if your core is the Tampa area then I don't see how this isn't about location. You can't accommodate the fans in Orlando, no different than the Yankees can't make special accommodations for the fans traveling from New Paltz. However, they have made it convenient for the 10 million+ New York City residents.

9 Dimelo   ~  Sep 29, 2010 2:42 pm

[7] BTW, the Bronx is a nice location. A family can go to the Bronx Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, go eat at a nice Italian restaurant on Arthur Ave, so please, don't make the Bronx out to be some bad area. It isn't.

10 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 29, 2010 3:05 pm

[7] [9] No doubt. And of course, the Yanks were drawing hundreds of thousands of fans while the Tampa area was still mostly swampland . . . and then winning all those championships while the Tampa area didn't even have a professional sports team . . .

So there's really no comparison there. And like Dimelo says, its not about the quality of the surrounding area, its the location.

Let me put it to you like this, OYF. Say the Yanks, instead of renovating the Stadium in 1974-75, had decided to built a new ballpark, in, oh, the Meadowlands. And that the transit between the NYC area and the Meadowlands did not change one bit between 1976 and today. Do you think the Yanks would have drawn nearly as many fans as they did over the ensuing 34 years?

[6] After going to the World Series in 2008, in 2009, the Rays were under .500 as late as June 10th, and in 4th place. 10+ years of losing and for the first two months of 2009, the Rays were right back to their losing ways. Its no surprise that they didn't get much of an attendance bump.

I won't comment on the central Florida demographic, because I'm not familiar with it. Though, anecdotally speaking, I don't recall any of the older people I know who escape(d) to Florida to avoid the northeast winters saying they were going to Tampa . . .

Finally, I think Sternberg expected to be out of the Trop's lease, and to be breaking ground on a new stadium by now. He's not, and that may explain his cries . . .

11 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 29, 2010 3:07 pm

[9] I haven't spent a lot of time there, but I have always enjoyed coming to the Bronx to watch the Yanks. And I wish I could spend more time there when I do come!

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