The results of Quinnipiac poll were released today, asserting that the Tampa Bay Rays are the second most loved professional baseball team in Florida. Florida’s, overall, favorite MLB team? Sigh, the Yankees. Quinnipiac University, who surveyed 1,988 adult Floridians from May 15-21, most notably polls people on issues related to politics. You can see the full results of the poll below.
According to the poll, 46 percent of Florida adults are “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in Major League Baseball. That number includes 56 percent of men and 38 percent of women. Quinnipiac compared those numbers to the results of, presumably, a similar poll given to New Jersey and Connecticut residents. They found that 54 percent of New Jersey adults and 53 percent of Connecticut adults are interested in baseball. More so, they found that the Yankees are the favorite team for 29 percent of fans aged 18-34 years old. The Rays rule with 54 percent of fans in the Tampa Bay area
Of the poll, Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute said,
Florida has only a 19-year tradition with Major League Baseball, so there is less fan interest, with the possible exception of those transplanted New Yorkers and their offspring.”
That the Yankees are the overall fan favorite (but not by much, mind you) isn’t too surprising. After all, the Yankees have called Florida their spring training home since 1919. Many former New York residents have flocked to Florida over the years, ultimately making it their home. With the transplants came an unbridled love for the Yankees. Over the years, many grew up watching as everyone from the Babe to Reggie Jackson called a variety of cities in Florida their home for three months out of the year. Kids, and adults alike, sweat and got bit by mosquitos along with the Yankees. And for a very long time, spring training presented the only opportunity for those of us, in Florida, to see some of our favorite players. It wasn’t until 1993 that Florida would finally get it’s first MLB expansion team. The city of Miami was first awarded the, then, Florida Marlins. Five years later, the (Devil) Rays would finally step on to the field, under the Teflon roof. That said, it makes sense that the Yankees would garner so much affection.
What makes this poll so interesting are the regional numbers. The Rays, by in large, are the fan favorites of the two Florida teams in all of the regions surveyed. What’s more, less than half of the residents surveyed, in the region that would typically be considered Marlins territory, consider themselves fans of the Marlins.
It’s also interesting that only a small segment of central Florida residents surveyed considered the Rays as their favorite team. Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the stadium issue, it does seem odd that one of the more prominent arguments for possible sites in either downtown Tampa or the Florida State Fairgrounds, is to accommodate a large chunk of the central Florida population, that were initially presumed to be Rays fans.