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View Full Version : Tampa Bay will never be a baseball town


Fenway
10-12-2008, 09:09 PM
I have watched for almost 20 years the saga that is baseball in Pinellas County, Florida and after this weekend I am convinced the Rays have to move across the bridge to Tampa, move 100 miles to Orlando or just plain move.

I have seen the Twins, Rangers, White Sox, Seattle and San Francisco all flirt with the area and yet I always had my doubts about if the area could support baseball.

This morning (Sunday) sportblab radio was gushing about Florida crushing LSU, the Bucs game and the Lightning losing in OT. Finally after 20 minutes somebody called to say Francona was an idiot for leaving Beckett in.

Even with the tarp covering 8,000 seats in the upper deck it was a very soft ticket for an ALCS set of games. The reason the Rays gave is the Dome can not handle a true sellout as the upper deck concourse if much smaller than The Cell.

Oh I grant you it was loud with all the cowbells and it was mostly a Rays crowd for a change but it just didn't feel like the playoffs.

Tampa Bay does have over 2 million in the area but the 5 cities who make up the area as a rule simply ignore the others and the team being in South St Petersburg doesn't help. The Bucs and Lightning are helped by the fact that there are things close by the stadium and hockey rink that The Trop simply doesn't have.

Tampa Bay is also hurting in a big way as bank mergers have all but eliminated downtown Tampa for having a reason to exist. Clearwater has been devasted as most of the property downtown is now owned by a religious group that ignores the community.

Sarasota simply wants the Red Sox to move there for spring and they are talking millions for a new complex. Ed Smith would become the minor league complex and Payne Park would become a mini-replica of Fenway. St Petersburg is still called 'God's Waiting Room'.

Maybe as this series goes 6 or 7 games people will finally get into it. I hope so as the Rays are an exciting team.

tstrike2000
10-12-2008, 10:25 PM
My question is, can anywhere in the state of Florida support a baseball team?

guillensdisciple
10-12-2008, 10:31 PM
My question is, can anywhere in the state of Florida support a baseball team?
No, small market teams who play for smaller market cities. Won't happen, which is sad because the weather there is perfect for baseball.

DSpivack
10-12-2008, 11:25 PM
No, small market teams who play for smaller market cities. Won't happen, which is sad because the weather there is perfect for baseball.

I don't know about perfect, a retractable roof stadium is pretty much a necessity. But I do think Orlando could support a team.

TheOldRoman
10-12-2008, 11:28 PM
No, small market teams who play for smaller market cities. Won't happen, which is sad because the weather there is perfect for baseball.I disagree. I think Miami can support a team. The fans have had their hearts ripped out twice by ownership. Despite that, the Marlins still have good TV ratings. Put them in a new baseball stadium with a retractable roof, and fans will come out. As for Tampa, I don't know how things will shake out there.

kidmccarthy
10-13-2008, 10:51 AM
Yeah, I have a great idea. How about Tampa just sends us all their players, and gets rid of their franchise. Maybe Ozzie will finally have the team he wants...:D:

Fenway
10-13-2008, 11:00 AM
There have always been warning signs about Florida that MLB simply ignored. The Florida State League is high A ( above the Midwest League ) and it has never had good attendance. Lakeland sometimes draws under 100 and the Jay and Phillies teams in Pinellas Country also struggle. Mike Veeck does so-so in Ft Myers but otherwise the FSL just limps along with the parents clubs eating the cost.

Orlando never supported AA either.

Baseball looked at Florida as the next California but the fact is the west coast had a de-facto third major league in the old PCL. Some PCL teams routinely outdrew MLB franchises.

Can Tampa be fixed? If they don't see a major bump in attendance in 2009 then they have to start looking elsewhere.

Irony is MLB did a study of what North American markets could most likely support a franchise. Northern New Jersey was first and Montreal second. They factor population and TV market numbers and nobody else comes close to the top 2.

nccwsfan
10-13-2008, 12:42 PM
There have always been warning signs about Florida that MLB simply ignored. The Florida State League is high A ( above the Midwest League ) and it has never had good attendance. Lakeland sometimes draws under 100 and the Jay and Phillies teams in Pinellas Country also struggle. Mike Veeck does so-so in Ft Myers but otherwise the FSL just limps along with the parents clubs eating the cost.

Orlando never supported AA either.

Baseball looked at Florida as the next California but the fact is the west coast had a de-facto third major league in the old PCL. Some PCL teams routinely outdrew MLB franchises.

Can Tampa be fixed? If they don't see a major bump in attendance in 2009 then they have to start looking elsewhere.

Irony is MLB did a study of what North American markets could most likely support a franchise. Northern New Jersey was first and Montreal second. They factor population and TV market numbers and nobody else comes close to the top 2.

In 1997 the Tampa Bay Rays signed a 30 year lease to play games in Tropicana Field. It is an airtight lease that the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County have said they will not break. Should the Rays try to break the lease for any reason there would be immediate legal action following. People can wish all they want for them to move, but the hard reality is that the Rays will be playing in St. Petersburg for the next 19 years, minimum.

LITTLE NELL
10-13-2008, 02:02 PM
I moved to SW Florida 15 years ago and after the White Sox I have a soft spot in my heart for the Rays and the Marlins. I'm sure that Tampa-St. Pete can support a team. You have to remember that they had 11 straight losing seasons, never winning over 70 games. 3 million people are'nt just going to show up like magic, but if the Rays contend for a few more years they should draw somewhere between 2 and 2.5 million. A lot of a teams attendence is based on season ticket sales and thats where the Rays need to focus on.
I saw the Sox in the Trop back in May and the place was sold out and the fans were really into the game. They know their baseball and a few more years of contending teams will help that franchise.
Go Rays, beat the Carmines!

hellview
10-13-2008, 02:20 PM
1. I think if the Rays can prove 2008 isn't a fluke and stay a good team for the next couple seasons fans with start coming out.

2. I dont think people can understand how much it sucks going into a dark dome on a nice number day. I have a friends who's a huge Twins fan, and he hasn't been to the dome in 2 years cause he says it just sucks being in the dome.

3. There's fan support cause I remember when they played a weekend series in Orlando outside and the stands were packed.

I really think moving to an open air stadium and the team staying good will get the Rays at least middle of the pack as far as attendance.

DSpivack
10-13-2008, 02:31 PM
In 1997 the Tampa Bay Rays signed a 30 year lease to play games in Tropicana Field. It is an airtight lease that the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County have said they will not break. Should the Rays try to break the lease for any reason there would be immediate legal action following. People can wish all they want for them to move, but the hard reality is that the Rays will be playing in St. Petersburg for the next 19 years, minimum.

If their attendance doesn't improve and they remain not economically viable, they'll find a way to break the lease. Soon enough they'll either be in a new stadium or out of St. Petersburg. There is no way in hell they're in the Trop in 2027.

PKalltheway
10-13-2008, 02:38 PM
Irony is MLB did a study of what North American markets could most likely support a franchise. Northern New Jersey was first and Montreal second. They factor population and TV market numbers and nobody else comes close to the top 2.
Please, tell me how in the hell could Montreal ever get baseball again? Would the people up there even want to try to have a new stadium built, considering how much that joke Olympic Stadium cost to build?

You say that Tampa Bay will never be a baseball town. Well Montreal sure as hell ain't one, either.

Fenway
10-13-2008, 02:42 PM
In 1997 the Tampa Bay Rays signed a 30 year lease to play games in Tropicana Field. It is an airtight lease that the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County have said they will not break. Should the Rays try to break the lease for any reason there would be immediate legal action following. People can wish all they want for them to move, but the hard reality is that the Rays will be playing in St. Petersburg for the next 19 years, minimum.

It has come out that there is a buy out provision on the lease and every year it costs less.

Einhorn was quoted in the NY Times last week saying The Trop could have been ours. He said that both he and JR wanted no part of a new ballpark on 35th St but they had promised the governor they would stay if Springfield approved the deal. They never thought he could pull off the deal.

LITTLE NELL
10-13-2008, 02:46 PM
1. I think if the Rays can prove 2008 isn't a fluke and stay a good team for the next couple seasons fans with start coming out.

2. I dont think people can understand how much it sucks going into a dark dome on a nice number day. I have a friends who's a huge Twins fan, and he hasn't been to the dome in 2 years cause he says it just sucks being in the dome.

3. There's fan support cause I remember when they played a weekend series in Orlando outside and the stands were packed.

I really think moving to an open air stadium and the team staying good will get the Rays at least middle of the pack as far as attendance.
Because of the summer rainy season in Florida you at least need a retractable roof.

ChiSoxGirl
10-13-2008, 03:42 PM
There have always been warning signs about Florida that MLB simply ignored. The Florida State League is high A ( above the Midwest League ) and it has never had good attendance. Lakeland sometimes draws under 100 and the Jay and Phillies teams in Pinellas Country also struggle. Mike Veeck does so-so in Ft Myers but otherwise the FSL just limps along with the parents clubs eating the cost.

I went to a Palm Beach Cardinals game in mid-July, after they'd already won the first half and were assured a post-season berth. It was a hot summer night and there were literally just a couple hundred people at the game. A good friend of mine works for this team and when I talked to him last week, I asked how the attendance was for the playoff game at Roger Dean Stadium last month and he said it was basically the same as the regular season. Their big draw is in March when the Cardinals and Marlins come down there to train- literally every day is a sellout.

Red Barchetta
10-13-2008, 03:43 PM
If their attendance doesn't improve and they remain not economically viable, they'll find a way to break the lease. Soon enough they'll either be in a new stadium or out of St. Petersburg. There is no way in hell they're in the Trop in 2027.

MLB will step in if the Rays continue to enjoy success and the ballpark issue isn't addressed.

I personally liked the outdoor downtown St. Pete ballpark model proposal, however many other "fans" did not. I personally hate domed baseball fields and would prefer to sweat a little to enjoy a beautiful view and baseball atmosphere than be stuck inside looking at concrete and hearing cowbells (like I did during the SOX playoff games).

Miami will prove a testbed as to whether or not a retractable roof/open air ballpark will be successful in Florida now that the Marlins have their ballpark deal approved. I think the Rays owners are going to watch that market response closely.

Personally, I would like to see an Arizona/Houston/Milwaukee-like ballpark built near the I4 fairgrounds so that all of the Tampa Bay area could enjoy MLB. The St. Pete location simply does not attract enough fans.

johnr1note
10-13-2008, 06:35 PM
There have always been warning signs about Florida that MLB simply ignored. The Florida State League is high A ( above the Midwest League ) and it has never had good attendance. Lakeland sometimes draws under 100 and the Jay and Phillies teams in Pinellas Country also struggle. Mike Veeck does so-so in Ft Myers but otherwise the FSL just limps along with the parents clubs eating the cost.

Orlando never supported AA either.

Baseball looked at Florida as the next California but the fact is the west coast had a de-facto third major league in the old PCL. Some PCL teams routinely outdrew MLB franchises.

Can Tampa be fixed? If they don't see a major bump in attendance in 2009 then they have to start looking elsewhere.

Irony is MLB did a study of what North American markets could most likely support a franchise. Northern New Jersey was first and Montreal second. They factor population and TV market numbers and nobody else comes close to the top 2.

I don't know what study your looking at, but simply by fanbase and potential media revenue, I've seen studies that show the 2 places to put an expansion team is the New York Metro area (Northern New Jersey qualifies, I guess) and a second team in Boston. It would never happen, but it would put us back to where we started with two teams in Boston and three in New York.

StillMissOzzie
10-13-2008, 11:17 PM
It has come out that there is a buy out provision on the lease and every year it costs less.

Einhorn was quoted in the NY Times last week saying The Trop could have been ours. He said that both he and JR wanted no part of a new ballpark on 35th St but they had promised the governor they would stay if Springfield approved the deal. They never thought he could pull off the deal.

Interesting take there. I thought that JR was on record as saying they were using Tampa Bay as leverage to get a new stadium, which they really wanted. I also thought that I heard Rick Dodge, one of the Florida minions, admit that they went into this knowing that they were the fallback position for the Sox if the new stadium fell through.

SMO
:?::scratch:

Hendu
10-13-2008, 11:28 PM
I just don't see a new stadium being approved down there in this economy, especially in a state right in the front lines of the real estate downturn.

Florida is facing a budget shortfall of at least $1.5 billion next year. With property taxes way down, I'd imagine Tampa and St. Pete are going to have major budget issues too. I can't imagine anyone approving money for a stadium in this environment...and private financing isn't an option either until the credit markets open up.

LoveYourSuit
10-13-2008, 11:42 PM
The stadium, for a dome, is not that bad a of a place for a fan to cool off and catch a game.

The problem is the location. St Pete has all retired locals and a ton of tourists .... not too many die hards can be made out of that group. They will never have a local fanbase there.

It was just poor planning thinking that St Pete would ever grow to anyhting close to a metro area.

Hitmen77
10-14-2008, 08:20 AM
It has come out that there is a buy out provision on the lease and every year it costs less.

Einhorn was quoted in the NY Times last week saying The Trop could have been ours. He said that both he and JR wanted no part of a new ballpark on 35th St but they had promised the governor they would stay if Springfield approved the deal. They never thought he could pull off the deal.

I'm confused....your statement makes it sound like Einhorn is still wishing at this point that they got the Florida deal. That doesn't make any sense - the Trop is unpopular and the Rays can't draw. Why would anyone trade what the Sox have in Chicago with the Cell and their current ticket sales and large market TV ratings vs. what the Rays have in Tampa?

I could imagine he (or anyone) wished we had Tampa Bay's players, but not their deal at Tropicana Field....unless the quote is taken out of context and he meant that they're lucky they didn't get stuck with the Trop.