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Tampa Bay Rays: Escape from the Trop


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20 hours ago, SFGiants58 said:

I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'm curious about the evidence of the ratings breakdown per team. I doubt the Rays or their network affiliate want to make it public. What would the 38 Yankees and Red Sox games draw in comparison to the other 124 games?

 

I hear the Yankees-Red Sox sound bite often enough that I want some evidentiary proof. Again, I'm not totally disputing it, I'm just wondering about the statistical validity. 


I don’t think we’ll ever get a television breakdown by opponent.  But that would be interesting. 

 

I was going off the polls from a couple years back that put the Rays as the third favorite team. Among baseball fans. In their own market. 

 

Which would explain the discrepancy between their decent television ratings and their pathetic attendance, which not even winning has been able to improve.  “Stadium location” is often cited by the team’s apologists, but I’m offering an alternate explanation that would fit the facts. 

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On 5/25/2021 at 7:05 AM, Gothamite said:


I don’t think we’ll ever get a television breakdown by opponent.  But that would be interesting. 

 

I was going off the polls from a couple years back that put the Rays as the third favorite team. Among baseball fans. In their own market. 

 

Which would explain the discrepancy between their decent television ratings and their pathetic attendance, which not even winning has been able to improve.  “Stadium location” is often cited by the team’s apologists, but I’m offering an alternate explanation that would fit the facts. 

On 5/24/2021 at 5:19 PM, SFGiants58 said:

 

Or, maybe the market is the problem. While viewership has apparently been high, it has never translated into ticket sales or any sustained presence in the region. At some point, it can't all be the stadium or the location or the owner. There has never been any string of attendance success with the Rays. During the '08 pennant run, the team had to give away playoff tickets.

 

 

Sure it can because the stadium situation has not changed. It actually gets worse every day with no sign that it's getting better. To expect Tampa Bay metro market baseball fans to change their baseball attending behaviors when nothing else has changed frankly makes no sense. 

 

I don't know why everyone keeps searching for other reasons when this very large, very valid reason explains the entirety of the problem. 

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The story I’ve heard, which makes more and more sense the longer this saga plays out, is that the Rays’ existence is solely a settlement for the torpedoed Giants and White Sox moves. St. Pete, a very isolated city from a potential fan base, built a ridiculously ill-advised stadium with delusions of grandeur, lost out on multiple possible tenants, and threatened legal action against MLB if they didn’t win the expansion lottery. The (Devil) Rays were subsequently shackled with a ridiculous lease by a city not wanting to be jilted again despite it clear as day that the experiment is a failure, and the city has done nothing to look at the clear picture that their white elephant is more suited as a Costco than a ballpark. The Rays are really at this point a scapegoat for the city’s failure in building the Trop in the first place.

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37 minutes ago, Sport said:

 

Sure it can because the stadium situation has not changed. It actually gets worse every day with no sign that it's getting better. To expect Tampa Bay metro market baseball fans to change their baseball attending behaviors when nothing else has changed frankly makes no sense. 

 

I don't know why everyone keeps searching for other reasons when this very large, very valid reason explains the entirety of the problem. 

This right here. Nobody is going to just magically start showing up to games when we're constantly being threatened with losing the team. Until they announce that they're going to stay in the Tampa Bay area long-term, dont expect attendance to change. 

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17 minutes ago, SpenserRM said:

This right here. Nobody is going to just magically start showing up to games when we're constantly being threatened with losing the team. Until they announce that they're going to stay in the Tampa Bay area long-term, dont expect attendance to change. 

 

If anything, if a team is looking to leave, I'd be less likely to commit my time and $ to them.  

 

I'll never forget the 2008 WS - it was cheaper to get tickets in Tampa and fly there than it was to go to a game here.  I totally get that the market never got a fair chance due to the stadium deal - I'm not going to expect anyone to drive to a horribly-located dump on a work night just to sit through 4 hours of pitching changes and mound huddles.  The thing is, none of the other metrics seem to make the case that the experiment would succeed even with a better / more convenient park.  Certainly not enough to warrant a $2b public investment.

 

The Florida MLB experiment has been a complete and total failure, and the sooner they can start undoing the Tampa part of it, the sooner they can start recouping some of the losses.

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11 minutes ago, LMU said:

The story I’ve heard, which makes more and more sense the longer this saga plays out, is that the Rays’ existence is solely a settlement for the torpedoed Giants and White Sox moves. St. Pete, a very isolated city from a potential fan base, built a ridiculously ill-advised stadium with delusions of grandeur, lost out on multiple possible tenants, and threatened legal action against MLB if they didn’t win the expansion lottery. The (Devil) Rays were subsequently shackled with a ridiculous lease by a city not wanting to be jilted again despite it clear as day that the experiment is a failure, and the city has done nothing to look at the clear picture that their white elephant is more suited as a Costco than a ballpark. The Rays are really at this point a scapegoat for the city’s failure in building the Trop in the first place.


Oh believe me, it’s not just the Giants and White Sox. Yes, the Trop was built for the White Sox, but St. Pete tried to get a bunch of teams for it. The Mariners and two competing expansion groups also almost happened. 
 

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These images are in reference to the purchase of the M’s by Nintendo.

 

One of the two competing expansion groups was the Florida Panthers (their failure led to Huizenga picking up the name for his NHL club) led by Frank Morsani. Morsani had led efforts to build a stadium in Tampa proper with private funding, almost getting the Twins, A’s, and Rangers to move there. After some setbacks, he settled on letting his prospective team play at the Trop instead of a location adjacent to The Sombrero/RayJay. His expansion bid didn’t make the cut.

 

The second expansion group, headed up by a partnership between St. Petersburg Cardinals owners/cousins Steve Porter and Joel Schur. They might have made the cut instead of Denver or Miami for the second expansion slot, but crazy money problems scuttled their bid. I have a whole post about that here:

 

TL, DR: Business partners left them out to dry, they couldn’t come up with money fast enough (at the deadline), and Miami had Blockbuster Video money (Huizenga) and Denver had Coors Beer money. 
 

The Mariners and Giants were a last-ditch effort to get a team, but both failed for different reasons. I have a whole write-up about the Giants one here:

 

At the end of the day, The Trop is the result of political chicanery by St. Pete officials (it wasn’t a referendum done by city or county residents) and Jerry Reinsdorf dicking the Illinois state senate around. The Rays came about to prevent a multi-billion antitrust lawsuit and now suffer as a result. They’re essentially the convertible minivan from Top Gear :
 

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The mutilated Renault Espace and the Rays are both terrible ideas that only resulted in pain, hilarity, and failed hope in a concept.

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1 hour ago, Sport said:

I don't know why everyone keeps searching for other reasons when this very large, very valid reason explains the entirety of the problem. 

 

The very large, very valid reason is that the Rays are the third most popular MLB team in their own market.  Even when they're winning.

 

That's not the stadium's fault.  It's the expansion committee's.

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I suggest that people read Stadium for Rent. When dealing with all the Tampa/St. Pete BS, it’s an important resource that’s well-researched and carries a lot of still-relevant information.

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34 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

 

The very large, very valid reason is that the Rays are the third most popular MLB team in their own market.  Even when they're winning.

 

That's not the stadium's fault.  It's the expansion committee's.

Especially when you consider that the Yankees' spring training/low-A stadium is in a better location in the Tampa Bay market than the Trop.

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Just now, Gothamite said:

The Expansion Committee should never have let MLB be bullied into placing a team in Tampa Bay. 

 

Ideally, the '93 and '98 expansions would've been this: 

 

-'93: Washington and Denver

-'98: Miami and Phoenix

 

Heck, even Miami has me doubtful. Granted, the possible expansion teams for the 1993 expansion were:

 

-Orlando

-Buffalo

-DC

-Vancouver

-Phoenix

-Nashville

-America's Team: "AMERICA’S TEAM: Florida businessman Joel Glazer, 23, applied for a franchise that would play 20 home games in each of four cities—choosing from Tampa Bay, South Florida, Denver, Buffalo and Washington, D.C. 'This is an idea for the 1990s,' Glazer told the Denver Post. 'It’s the future of baseball'" (Andelman, 2015, p. 198).

-South Florida/Miami

-Denver

-the two Tampa Bay groups

 

Of those, the only non-chosen expansion groups (and DC) that'd be viable would be Nashville and maybe Vancouver. Heck, a Nashville expansion in 1998 might have had positive results down the line (provided it had a good location and not subpar ownership). 

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17 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

 

The very large, very valid reason is that the Rays are the third most popular MLB team in their own market.  Even when they're winning.


But certainly playing in a warehouse in a tough location doesn’t help that, no? I’m not dismissing that the problem is a combination of factors. I mean, it’s not like Yankees and Red Sox fans are filling the stadium when those teams come to town either. 

 

17 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

That's not the stadium's fault.  It's the expansion committee's.


It’s both. And I don’t think the market has ever been given a truly fair test. 

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Just now, Sport said:

It’s both. And I don’t think the market has ever been given a truly fair test. 

 

Hard agree there. A decade of being blue-balled by a bunch of MLB teams, saddling the market with an awful stadium, and giving the potential fanbase shaky trust of the game as a whole made it so Tampa Bay MLB baseball never had a fair chance. It genuinely sucks, as I want Tampa Bay baseball to succeed. It has never been in a position to succeed, not since the first rumblings of bringing a team to the region and the political dickery that both Tampa and St. Pete took part in for those early years.

 

Again, Stadium for Rent by Bob Andelman is a must-read for anybody even remotely interested in the situation. It's so good.

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1 hour ago, LMU said:

Especially when you consider that the Yankees' spring training/low-A stadium is in a better location in the Tampa Bay market than the Trop.

 

Everything is in a better location than Tropicana Sam's Club. Awful stadium, awful location. Honestly, I'm surprised it's worked as well as it has and that ain't saying much. That being said, as I've stated numerous times on these here boards and elsewhere (like the official podcast of CCSLC)  baseball will never work in Florida. You can build all the stadiums you want wherever you want, but it won't matter.  The only thing dumber than putting a team in Florida was putting two teams in Florida.

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6 hours ago, Sport said:

I don't know why everyone keeps searching for other reasons when this very large, very valid reason explains the entirety of the problem. 

Because they start with the predetermined conclusion that baseball in Tampa Bay (or Florida as a whole) is inherently doomed to fail and then work backwards from there.

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10 minutes ago, Magic Dynasty said:

Because they start with the predetermined conclusion that baseball in Tampa Bay (or Florida as a whole) is inherently doomed to fail and then work backwards from there.

 

Oh, far from it. I want Tampa Bay baseball to work, but I just see the political decisions of the Tampa/St. Pete government and the building of the Trop as factors that doomed the region to a terrible stadium in a terrible location. That's why I keep mentioning that book, because it explains so much of the political chicanery that made this situation so awful.

 

I still think there is potential in the market, but the way things have played out have created a Jacksonville NFL/Atlanta NHL-level mistake. A good owner and a good stadium could turn this around, in fact I hope they do. A better owner committed to the region and committed to privately-funding/"covert subsidizing" a new stadium in a better location would be of great help. But there's one big reason that I'm skeptical: the Marlins.

 

We saw what happened with the Marlins and how their clownery cost Miami tax money and produced almost nothing in return. The Marlins still don't draw fans and are still a punching bag for the rest of the league. Miami's situation should disincentivize Tampa Bay Area residents from ever voting on stadium measures, because they could get suckered into paying billions for a terrible team to stink up a new joint for little benefit to the local economy. 

 

I wouldn't say doomed to fail, but rather stumbling at every step since the start and making the market look bad. I want the Rays to prove me wrong, but so far, they're doing a terrible job. Maybe if fans had showed up for the 2008 pennant run, things would be looking different. That 2008 run should've been the launching point for a new stadium campaign, for which Stu and his partners could likely afford to contribute over 70% of the money. But, they stumbled there and now the Rays are in the full-blown dumps.

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This may seem like I'm trying to kick the market while it's down, given that I stand to benefit from the Rays moving, but I truly do wish that Tampa Bay had worked out. I just think that the well has been thoroughly poisoned for baseball in Florida, through the Marlins' firesale clownery and Tampa Bay's concrete disaster.  My ideal solution would be moving (or contracting!) the Marlins, moving the Rays organization to Miami, and possibly having them play several home series throughout the year in Tampa Bay.

 

I'm one of those people that somewhat believes in "if you build it, they will come", but it's been 20 years, and people still won't come. Maybe a new stadium fixes those issues, maybe it won't. Do the Rays and their jerk owner have enough political pull to make a new stadium happen in Tampa? I personally doubt it. If the Rays had started with a better stadium or were in a better place after the '08 run then you could certainly say that they're worth keeping, but their abysmal lease at the Trop, brought on by political ridiculousness by both the MLB and St. Pete's officials have kind of ruined it for Tampa Bay.

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13 hours ago, Gothamite said:

 

Before 2008 and 2009, I would absolutely have agreed with you.

 

where’d they play their games those seasons?

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22 minutes ago, Sport said:

 

where’d they play their games those seasons?


People went to f—king Candlescheisse when the Giants were contenders. You know, another horrible stadium. People also pack the Oakland Mausoleum during the playoffs (the tarp even comes off sometimes).

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  • LMU changed the title to Tampa Bay Rays: Escape from the Trop

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