Did you look at the comments on your last article? There are a number of clear issues with the fanbase that wouldn’t be helped by a nicer stadium.
1) the metro area is very spread-out without a centralized downtown, making for a long commute to any stadium
2) Tropicana Field is in a particularly terrible location
3) the population largely consists of transplants from other cities who have other team loyalties and who aren’t very rooted to the area
4) there’s a lot of other stuff to do in the area during the summer months
Nice study, I hope the city of Tampa is doing similiar studies. Wouldn’t a study of TV ratings effectively remove the stadium variable? Have the Rays seen the expected up tick in TV ratings as they have won more games? It seems like a comparision between their TV ratings and their attendance should tell us the effect the ballpark is having. My assumption would be that a strong and consistent relationship exists between the ratings and attendance.
Your 1) and 2) get lumped into Jason’s (1), your 3) can be lumped into Jason’s (2).
As to your 4), all areas have lots of other stuff to do in summer months. You think we northerners don’t just love to use the warm weather for all sorts of things we’re unable to do 6 months a year? Like staying outside?
Has anyone put into perspective that the Tampa bay buccaneers are having similar issues? They are getting blacked out almost every week since beginning of last season even though they have a fairly good team. They have a newer stadium, and it’s in the right spot in Tampa and they are having trouble. I think Tampa’s economy is what is driving this mess and it will not get better any time soon!
Part of the TV ratings thing is explained by the fact that people in the Panhandle can watch Rays games, as can (I’m assuming) people in Key West. But I think every team ahead of them also has a massive TV area (I think the Reds have the top rating and they have like a 6 state radius) so I’m not sure if that counts against the Rays.
Every time I watch a Blue Jays game on television I think, ‘wow, I would love to take a trip up there one day and catch a game’. That stadium looks awesome.
About the Rays, I live in Florida and showed up to only one game this yr, live 3 hrs away, and found the stadium pleasant to watch a game. I found parking easily, right next to the stadium. Getting out was the hard part.
You have to have it all. Wins and someone with pop. Plus, it’s about what you can expect from a player than what they actually produce. However, by his third year, I would have expected Pena to bring in the fans… so, good point.
Comment by Barkey Walker — October 12, 2011 @ 9:38 pm
Been to a few stadiums, and while the SkyDome (or whatever) is super, super dated and out of fashion, it’s not actually a bad place for baseball. Good sightlines, great location, kind of homey inside. Just sort of physically doofy-looking, is all. Maybe in a few years it’ll be retro.
As someone who lives in Winter Haven, FL, I can tell you the reason that I don’t go very often…it’s not the ticket prices, the concession prices, the crappy stadium…it’s that the stadium is a pain in the butt to get to for me. It’s only 70 miles but, it’s a 3 1/2 to 4 hour round trip.
Is the idea of playing “home” games at a site other than the Trop really unrealistic? Didn’t they play a few games in Orlando back in 2007 or 2008? Also, look back to the early 1970s when the White Sox played some “home” games in Milwaukee before the Pilots moved. Close to 1/3 of the Sox total season attendance came from the Milwaukee games. I know we’re talking about two separate franchises with two distinctly different issues, but why can’t it be done?
First off, any time a team moves into a new stadium, the attendance is up. It’s the “new stadium buzz”. So that will already help. If it’s in an accessable area and the team is good, attendance will go up. Rays are starting to establish themselves as a sort of “king of the underdog” type of franchise.
Financing a stadium actually isn’t all that expensive for teams. The pirates got something like 110% of their actual stadium cost paid for by the city of Pittsburgh because the owner talked them into adding “infastructure” costs or something like that. Plus there is a HUGE difference between a ridiculous 1 billion dollar Yankee stadium and a modest but scenic 400 million dollar stadium. I’m pretty sure PNC was only like 350 and it’s typically in the top 3 of most beautiful stadiums.
The Rays just need a scenic, intimate little 35,000 seater that can maybe exand up to 40,000 during playoff games.
Comment by Antonio bananas — October 13, 2011 @ 12:31 am
Wow PNC was actually only 216 million according to wikipedia (I know lulz @ wiki).
Comment by Antonio bananas — October 13, 2011 @ 12:33 am
I live in Bartow and I totally agree. In 2008 I went to about 40 games including the playoffs but (while it was fun) I was exhausted from all of the driving back and forth to the stadium. This year, I went to all of 2 games. I just don’t have the time or money to travel to the Trop when I can just watch the games on TV.
Florida in summer needs an enclosed facility. The summer weather is way too humid and uncomfortable for fans to have a pleasant experience. That said, the Trop isn’t all that bad. Sure it’s a pull from Bartow and Lakeland and Winterhaven, but it is fairly central to population centers up and down the west coast of Florida and Tampa. The area has very deep baseball roots, and anyone who says the Bay Area isn’t a baseball community just doesn’t know its history and traditions. The list of players from here, past and present, is very impressive.
All that said, a franchise move to across The Bay to Tampa would likely jump-start renewed — and sustainable — interest in the club.The economy in the area is horrid. Even The Rays’ TV viewship has declined. But this is still a very strong baseball community, and we think starting over, with an intimate baseball facility in the Tampa downton area, would be a huge success. It would have to be a covered facility.
Maybe they need to try more advertising and lower ticket prices.
I’d start with advertising.
Comment by philosofool — October 13, 2011 @ 10:52 am
well i love baseball, and i absolutely use the cheaper price and ability to sit right up close to action as the reason i go to spring training every year. i go to about 4-6 games depending on how long im spending in florida and try to see as many different teams as possible. its a lot of fun, much cheaper than the regular season games, you can see tons of teams in the same area, and you get to be right on top of the dugout for the price of bleachers. it is a fantastic vacation for any true baseball fan.
Comment by phoenix2042 — October 13, 2011 @ 11:58 am
The first year of the Devil Rays the team sold tons of season tickets and had pretty darn good attendance. There are plenty of people in the Tampa Bay area who love baseball and will support the team. After the first year, the D-Rays lost a ton of season ticket holders. My family was one of them. The fact that the team stunk wasn’t part of the decision, we expected that. We didn’t renew our seats because the then owner decided that our seats would go from $15 to $30, and with 4 seats that 100% increase was just way more than we could afford. Namoli and the team were pretty crappy about it too. They reported that they had barely increased ticket prices, and hid the true increases by changing tons of seats from one category to another (lower box seats became lower infield box seats). Namoli was also horrible to the business community and everyone else around and essentially made most of the area dislike the team by association.
The new ownership group has done a complete 180 with the franchise and there is now a huge buzz about the Rays. The bad feelings generated by Namoli are mostly gone, and there are plenty of people who would love to go to Rays games. A similar thing happened after Glazer bought the Bucs, and when they started winning the Bucs went from playing in front of an empty stadium to having a waiting list for season tickets. The new stadium probably helped, but not nearly as much as Dungy, Brooks, Sapp, and Alstott. The difference between then and now is that when the Bucs turned around we had a pretty darn good economy. Unfortunately, the economy right now is terrible and as a result the Rays haven’t been as lucky. Almost every business in this area has been forced to make cutbacks, in many cases including layoffs. Buying Rays season tickets is just not feasible in this environment. When the economy turns around, the team will start seeing more people at games, new stadium or not. Until then, there isn’t much the Rays or anyone else can do.