The Tampa Bay Rays opened a critical three game series against the Texas Rangers Monday night at home. Fans showed up in pathetic numbers to support their possibly playoff bound team.
The Rays have always had attendance issues. Their ballpark, Tropicana Field, is an eyesore and the team consistently loses free agents to higher payroll clubs. Yet somehow, year after year, the Rays find a way to win.
Isn’t winning supposed to translate increased attendance? Apparently not. On Monday night the Rays beat the Rangers in a critical series opener 6-2. Only 10,724 fans showed up.
A few years ago attendance was so low during a playoff run the Rays gave out free tickets to fill up the stadium.
Since 2008, the Rays have been the to World Series and won the NL East twice. They’ve had a winning record every season and have always been one of the more exciting teams to watch. Over the same period the average attendance has been around 20,000. Tropicana Field holds 42,000 people.
The Tampa Bay Rays attendance was so pathetic Monday night they couldn’t even fill one-quarter of their ballpark. The team currently leads the wildcard standings by one game!
Sadly, the Rays attendance problem might be a result of Tropicana Field. Originally built for the San Francisco Giants in the early 90′s, the ballpark stayed dormant until the Rays first game in 1998.
Tropicana Field is widely considered one of the worst stadiums in all of baseball. It even rivals Oakland Coliseum, home of the Athletics. The A’s ballpark opened in 1966. Like Tampa Bay, Oakland barely averages 20,000 fans a game.
The Rays need a new ballpark. There have been discussion ongoing since 2007. So far nothing has come to fruition. The team’s current lease at Tropicana Field runs through 2027 and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster insists the Rays have to play out the terms.
Do you think the Rays pathetic attendance numbers are because of Tropicana Field?
[image via Wikimedia Commons]