For the love of the game . . .

the Tampa Bay Rays need to be moved to a new city.  It makes me sad to see a team that has been in the playoffs 3 of the last 4 seasons, and has been to a World Series, to only out-draw the Oakland A’s in average attendance (18,878 – more than 10,000 below the league average!).  There were 10 (TEN!) teams in baseball in smaller markets than the Tampa/St. Petersburg area that had better attendance in 2011.  Tampa is the 13th largest television market in the U.S.  Of the teams that had better attendance in 2011, they ranked as low as 35th (Milwaukee)!

And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, I was really hoping the fans would show up for their team that’s actually in the playoffs.  But, other than the Rays, only the Yankees have had less than 105% of their regular season capacity in attendance (96.9% – still over 50,000).  That is, other than the Rays, who had barely more than 90% capacity in the first game they hosted (32,828), and a pathetic 78% in the second game (28,299).

Why?  Why can’t a team with as much success as they’ve had over the last few years do any better in attendance?  The rule of thumb for most teams is, if you put a competitive team on the field, your attendance will improve.  But, back in 2007, when Tampa Bay finished in last place, and lost 96 games, they averaged 17,103 in attendance.  So, a playoff contender & World Series quality team attracts less than 2,000 more people in Tampa than a team that has the worst record in baseball??

The only way this will ever improve is by getting the team to a place that will actually support their team.  Of the cities that are large enough to support them, and don’t already have a team, Portland, Charlotte, Nashville, and maybe Salt Lake City could be considered.  Charlotte and Nashville make the most sense for them to not have to make changes to which division they’re in, and without having to alter their minor league system.

This team shouldn’t have to suffer through half-filled stadiums any more.  For the love of the game, they need to go somewhere they will be appreciated.

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