“To see that they’re No. 29, I think it is, in attendance, it’s inexcusable. Nobody can defend that.
The non-objective, hyperbolic criticisms of all things Rays have, again, reared their ugly heads when MLB commissioner, Bud Selig, let his tongue work, without abandon, on the topic of the Rays attendance situation. We all know what happens now. The conversations of a new facility, or how crappy of a market we are, will begin to dominate the local newspapers again. And those ever annoying comments of why the Trop sucks, etc, will fill the local sports talk radio radio outlets. Sadly, discussion of how the Rays are playing will fall on deaf ears.
Let me just predicate things a bit. As a Rays fan, I’ve heard chastising comments time an again; we’re not good fans, we have a sub-par facility, so on and so forth. I’ve watched as all of our professional sports franchises have had their feats and success walked upon, with muddy shoes no less, by the likes of Fox Sports and ESPN for years. One almost expects Dick Stockton, John Kruk, Tim McCarver, or Terry Francona to say something about the Trop (or as Francona likes to call it that building) at any given opportunity. Besmirching the Rays, the Trop, or the fans can be turned into a drinking game, and at this point, most of these comments can be passed off without being thought of twice. Most of them.
I’ve made no bones about it: I think the Rays deserve a new stadium. However, I’m also realistic, and I realize that there are many forces conspiring against a new stadium coming into fruition at the moment. A new stadium, be it in Pinellas or Hillsborough, will come. Besides I’m not really willing to debate that right now because. Ultimately, that conversation is irrelevant in this context.
It’s disappointing. And I know that people down there, some people, will be offended; not the fans, not the people who go every day. And I know they have great intensity, the people there. … I watch a lot of games every day — sometimes all 15 of them — and I pay great attention not only to what’s happening on the field, but to the attendance. So to use my father’s old line, nothing is ever good or bad except by comparison. I’ll rest my case. It’s disappointing. And I’m concerned.
Hmm…well Bud, I have a question for you. Simply put, what gives you the right to openly drag Tampa Bay through the mud with non-objective observations?
Sure, as commissioner all baseball matters are Selig’s concern. Yet I’d argue, if Bud is willing to publicly comment on the state of any issue, he needs to do his homework a bit. Attendance has dropped since 2008 for a multitude of reasons. That’s like pointing out the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Yet, that the Rays attendance has improved this season, albeit modestly, has been all but ignored. True, Tampa Bay ranks 29th in attendance, just ahead of Cleveland. But the Rays are putting, on average, 2,000 more people in the stands on a daily basis. What’s more, between 66%-75% of all MLB teams have experienced a drop-off in attendance between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, including the New York Yankees.
With this in mind, I’d like to know what Bud Selig and Major League Baseball has done to rectify the problem of shrinking attendance numbers in MLB facilities? I, for one, cannot remember a time when Bud has done more than point out a problem in Tampa Bay. I’d have to imagine that the same is true in any community that houses a major league organization experiencing dwindling attendance numbers. Where’s the Bud initiative to get attendance up? When can we expect the Selig appreciation night, where beers and hot-dogs are 50% off, and everyone that passes through the gate gets a free coozie with a screen printed image of Bud’s mug. Something…anything.
Yes, it’s disappointing that our attendance numbers are down and I doubt anyone will argue otherwise. But, shouldn’t it also be disappointing that 66%-75% of all of baseball’s attendance numbers are down. And isn’t that indicative of a larger issue at hand? Sure, everyone would love to see a Trop that’s got at least 24,000 fans in the stands on any given night. In the end, things are getting better, as per the 2012 attendance figures. Bud Selig, or any of the Tampa Bay detractors, shouldn’t hesitate in acknowledging things as such. But, sadly, they’re not.
“Selig’s position has been that Sternberg, like all owners, knows the best course of action for his team and is waiting for direction from him. Sternberg hasn’t said much on attendance or the stadium situation recently but has suggested Major League Baseball, and Selig, eventually will get impatient and initiate action,” writes Marc Topkin in a recent article on the subject. Ultimately action will be initiated.
I contend however, if you continue to admonish us Rays fans for our “lack of support”, you cannot expect the outcome to be pretty.