SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Baseball's Attendance May Be Down Slightly, But What's the Problem in Tampa Bay?

The Rays are a good team. Check that, an excellent team with a good shot to win the World Series.

Yet, when they clinched a playoff spot the other night against the Orioles, they drew less than 18,000 people. What gives?

As this article from the New York Times points out, attendance was down in 2008 and in 2009 and is down one third of one percent in 2010. Sure, the economy hasn't gotten a whole lot better, but how do you explain this attendance in a city with a very good team? Sure, not every team can be the Phillies, who have sold out 123 straight contests. But to have a team in the thick of a pennant race and not sell more than 20,000 tickets let alone fill your home park?

There are probably many theories, from the fact that it was a school night to the fact that "what's the big deal, there was no doubt that they'd make the playoffs" to the economy. But could it be that Florida baseball teams have this problem -- many of the residents of the state come from other states and root for the teams where they grew up or lived (for a long time) before? So, could there be a bunch of Yankee and Met fans, among others, near Tampa and St. Petersburg? Phillies fans too? Or, is Florida a football state? Or, is there some other reason?

The Rays' owners and players have to be frustrated.

Especially when they watch teams in other cities that play before sellout crowds.

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