Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fans, those fickle beasts

As a Red Sox fan, I often hear the same refrain from fans of baseball teams that suck: The Boston Red Sox blow all this money on players and we can't!  It's unfair!  Wahhhh!  These fans never mention that they're team probably got a stadium financed with public funds while the Sox ownership keeps pouring money into the smallest, and one of the oldest, stadiums in baseball.

Boston fans also pay astronomically high ticket prices, yet fill up that tiny little bucket of a stadium 81 times a year.  Every Sox game over the past five years has been a sellout.

No wonder the Red Sox can afford to give outrageous contracts to all stars.  But what amazes me this baseball season is the Tampa Bay Rays fanbase -- if you can even call it that.  The Rays have arguably been the best team in baseball all season, yet Rays fans complain their team sucks.  The fans level of whining reflects in attendance at home games -- about 12,000 fans saw their Rays clinch a playoff berth last night.

I just checked Rays ticket prices.  Bleacher and upper deck seats go for $10 - 17; press box level seats go for $29; the second section of seats behind all the "expensive" front section seats go for $22; and the lower box/front section seats go for $42.  At most stadiums, upper deck seats behind the plate are fine -- and those go for minor league prices for Rays fans! And $42 gets you close to the field?  Forty-two dollars doesn't get you a friggen hot dog and beer at Fenway Park.  Rays fans can pay these prices to see an elite team that could win the World Series this season play!  What are they complaining about?

So the next time I hear some fans bitching about how the Red Sox buy championships and only the Yankees can afford to compete with them, I'll ask them why fans can't show up when the Rays put a winning team on the field.  As for that salary dump your team will do next season, Tampa -- hey, you get what you pay for.  You'll have no right to complain about it.

One final note, speaking as a Red Sox fan: If the Rays make it to the World Series, I can't wait to see the Phillies stomp all over them again.

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At September 28, 2010 7:37 PM , Anonymous Jim Johnson said...

Wait. You mean baseball is played in September? Remember, this is FLORIDA where there are two seasons: Football and Off.

Why should people drive way the heck over to downtown St Pete on a school night? Move the stadium and you can bet people would come.

Case in point: 40,000 people went to watch the USF Bulls face Western Kentucky last week. The Rays are doing far better than USF, in comparison to their peers.

So how can USF draw 4x as many people for what has to be a lesser product? The stadium is in Tampa... and it's football.

At September 28, 2010 7:55 PM , Blogger Michael Hussey said...

Sonallah Ibraisnt wrote the post and not I. I will mention the comments made by Evan Longoria.

"For us to play 155 games and go a full season of playing really good baseball, it's kind of like, what else do we have to do to draw fans into this place?" Longoria said after the 4-0 loss. "It's actually embarrassing for us."

The Tampa Bay Lightning played in that same baseball stadium and had better attendance with some crappy hockey teams. How can anyone explain that. People have no problem driving to downtown St. Pete to party but won't go to a ball game. The team will move no matter how many threats Mayor Bill Foster makes.

"So how can USF draw 4x as many people for what has to be a lesser product? The stadium is in Tampa... and it's football."

The Lightning can get decent crowds on both sides of the Bay when they are winning. The Bucs are having a hard time selling tickets because their current product came off a 3 - 13 season. I wonder if Tampa residents prefer dangerous contact sports over a more cerebral game like baseball. If a baseball stadium is built in Hillsborough will the fans come?

At September 28, 2010 10:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's it -- I officially revoke the privilege of the Tampa Bay area to have a major league baseball team. There are other metropolises that actually want a baseball team. The lack of attendance from Tampa Bay residents -- despite their team looking like it will win the AL East division, goto the playoffs, and likely get the AL pennant -- tells me that the TB fanbase isn't willing to appreciate good baseball. Stop complaining and please give your team to another city that will support it.

I say all of this as a Red Sox fan who wants to see your asses get kicked, but I also understand that Red Sox v. Yankees for the AL pennant every year gets boring for the rest of the country. In the long run, it's not good for baseball. And as a baseball fan, I'd like to see all teams be competitive. So please Tampa Bay, if you refuse to support your team, give them to a city that will.


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