ESPN.comkept on beating the dead horse that is Rays' attendance this week, with a commentary titled, "Trop is a home-fielddisadvantage." It's actually a relatively fair assessment of the situation in Tampa Bay, but of course, the national audience could draw some false conclusions.
These were a few of the hits and misses:
- MISS: "The Rays couldn't even sell out their two American League Division Series games against the always-popular Red Sox." (Not true.)
- HIT: "As the locals say, 'It's a much larger body of water than you think.'" (Yes, Tampanians refuse to cross the bridge.)
- MISS: "Most of the population base is on the other side of the bay in Tampa." (This doesn't tell the whole story - population between Tampa & South Pinellas is very similar; the refusal to drive 30-40 minutes is the real problem.)
- HIT: "Any plans to build a new stadium closer to the population nucleus are moot until someone buys out the lease. Even if that happened, taxpayers would still have to be convinced to help underwrite a $550 million stadium."
- MISS: "lease" (It's a use agreement, not a lease - which makes a difference when you try to break it.)
- HIT: "There is this nagging feeling that major league baseball will never work in Florida....The summers can be enervating, what with high temperatures and afternoon showers. Why not sit at home in the air conditioning and watch the Rays on TV?"
- MISS: Tampa-St. Pete is the 13th largest TV market in the country. (It's been the 14th for a few years.)
- HIT: "The Rays have tried nearly everything. Free parking on certain days and for cars with four people. Food is permitted to be brought into the park. And they've made The Trop a great place to watch the game..." (It's one of the best values in the bigs.)
Writer Steve Wulf isn't far from spot-on when handicapping the situation, but his constant reminder that the Rays could move (Memphis? Indianapolis? Carolina? Montreal?) doesn't do the national audience any good.
Not to mention, he fails to mention that the team's poor attendance hasn'tprevented itfromturning a profit year after year...and strong TV ratings give the team plenty of hope they can remain that way for decades to come.