hangoverLast night was only the 8th World Series rematch since the introduction of interleague play. But a look at the stands and one would have thought it was just another mid-week matchup with an AL Central foe. 19,608 was the paid attendance and Matt Silverman is disappointed.

“…we circled this series as one of the most compelling of the year,” team president Matt Silverman said Tuesday night. “It’s a rare privilege to host a rematch of the World Series, especially against a team with local connections. Based on all the information we had, we projected full houses. It’s a huge miss…Quite frankly, we don’t know what to attribute it to, but it’s not just the economy,” he said. “It’s bewildering. There seems to be great affection for the team and excitement for the ’09 campaign, but it’s not showing up at the gate at all.”

Of course, this comes as no surprise to us as we have been tracking the 2009 attendance and it is barely outpacing the 2008 figures with the Rays still near the bottom of the league.

The Rays are never one to say anything negative, but Silverman came very close when asked if the attendance would have been better in Clearwater or Tampa.

“I don’t know how it might have drawn at other locales within Tampa Bay, but a matchup of World Series teams would clearly have drawn a good deal better in every other baseball market.”

The jabs are subtle, but they are starting to come more often and one has to wonder if the Rays are slowly starting to place pressure on the City of St. Pete to either build a new stadium or risk losing their one major league franchise.

Tampa Bay Rays find small crowds “bewildering” [The Heater]

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31 Comments

  1. JP says:

    You know something, I went to the game last night and the business that I work for is closing in two months and I'm going to be out of work. I spent at least $50 bucks on beer and food. Maybe instead of complaining about attendance, they should actually thank the people that show up.

    I have been going to at least 40 games a year for the past 10 years, spending my hard earned money and having a ball doing so. But when I read this article this morning, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

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    • Charles says:

      I get where you're coming from. Personally, I get the feeling that the ownership does appreciate the die-hard fans like you, but it might not hurt them to say so at least as much as they vent about the fans who aren't showing up.

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    • Myrna says:

      I agree, I was at the game last night and was very disappointed to see the small attendance from our fans. Our team is very inconsistent this year. Unfortunately, we have a small percentage of die-hard Rays fans (I am one of them). We have a lot of bandwagon fans..not the passionate ones you'll find in Boston or New York. If our team is not doing well, they simply don't come. I saw an old fool wearing a big ole red Phillies hat and wearing a necklace with a TB charm! Pretty sick if you ask me. Moving to a different location is not the solution. Raymond James is a lovely stadium and there were plenty of empty seats there last year as well. We get in gear and start winning like last year and the attendance will go up. The economy is a factor, but not all of it.

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    • Michael says:

      Give me a break. That'd be like if in 2007 a potential Devil Rays fan told the team they don't go to games because the team lost 100 games the year before, and the team responding with "You should just be grateful for the 62 games we did win!" The truely sad part is that reports say a large portion of the 19,000 were Phillies fans, so in all honesty I bet there weren't more than 12,000 actual Rays fans in attendance.

      The Rays front office has every right to be disappointed in last night's attendance. St. Pete is running out of excuses.

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  2. Charles says:

    I kinda understand their frustration - you'd think getting to see the AL champs in a World Series rematch at what's still a below MLB average Fan Cost Index would be a no-brainer for a fan. Of course, people's disposable income is WAY down these days, that's absolutely part of it. But (and I hate to even bring this up, because obviously local microeconomies can and will vary wildly) when the Red Sox pack the house every night even when the lowliest of teams is in town, and the economy problem is a nationwide problem, you have to think something else is at play. But is it really the stadium/area? Granted, last time I was at a game at the Trop was 2002, so I don't know if things are worse now then they were then, but I remember it being easy enough to get to and not hard to park at.

    I am flying down for my dad's 60th b-day in September and I'm buying tickets for the Red Sox series, so hopefully attendance (and team performance) will have improved by then.

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  3. I think the Rays believe that a change in "atmosphere" will bring more fans out. I have to be honest, while I love going to games, I have trouble getting my wife and daughters to go. My wife (who is small) feels trapped in the seats. There aren't as many amenities at the Trop as in other stadiums and you really can't watch the action while walking around. If Sternberg can build a stadium that my wife will enjoy going to... he's just doubled the amount of games I can go to.

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  4. I can understand the frustration, but they have to take the economy more into account.

    Honestly, I'm just glad that they small threat is to move somewhere else in the Tampa Bay area and not another metro area.

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  5. Brixology says:

    The economy is bad all over. It is worse here than most places, but I think this is proving what all the recent materials have been saying: this part of Pinellas County doesn't have the bodies to support this franchise. I think it is fair to expect to get close to selling out a World Series rematch. And I think Prof is right that they are probably going to start turning the screws on the City by citing the lack of attendance publicly. I am still in the camp that hopes they move across the Bay, but I'm dreading the amount of time that will have to be spent in the Trop to shrink the early termination penalty. The City needs to hustle up if they want to keep this team.

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    • John says:

      aren't we one of the few franchises that has actually shown an INCREASE in attendance this year? is the glass half empty or half full?

      (Actually, I just think the glass is too damn big, but that's just me.)

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      • yes the Rays have shown a small increase. But their attendance has been so low that an increase was about the only direction they could have gone. It is much easier for a team that drew 3 million last season to show a decrease.

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  6. David says:

    lol at the economy being the cause of all of your excuses. We don't have enough bodies to fill up a ballpark because of the economy? Sure it's a packed house when the Yankees or Red Sox are in town, but how about a Concert Series game. It was Rays vs. Nationals and the game was packed. Are you telling me the 30,000 that come for the concert series come for the performer(s) rather than the baseball team? I don't call it economy problems, I call it lack of support and only going to a game only when something is given to you afterwards. As for you season ticket holders and locals that go to almost every game, kudos.

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  7. Don says:

    I feel that the series with the Phillies was very much under promoted!
    If it would have been the NFL, NBA or even big time Wrestling with a
    "World Championship Rematch" it would been on headlines, radio, everwhere in the media.....
    There was no "Special" types of promotion from the media or the team!
    Sorry MR Silverman YOUR organization (people) have to take most of the responsibility for this lack of effort....Sort of like the players last night!

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  8. Corbitt says:

    While I think a team shouldn't market the away team, I agree there wasn't nearly enough coverage for these games. Even during television broadcasts, the only commercials(not counting Staats reading his script) I see are for giveaways and concert games. When dealing with a spread out community like this, you need to put print, radio and tv ads out to let the casual fan or people looking for something to do with the family a heads up on when you are home. If I didn't carry around a pocket schedule and watch religiously I'd have no idea when we played. No other generation in my family really followed baseball, so I had to learn this sport on my own and that started because I saw an ad once for a game that I had nothing else to do that day

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  9. Brendan says:

    Over at the rays party they have an excellent perspective on this whole issue.
    http://mvn.com/theraysparty/2009/06/the-obvious-isnt-to-the-rays-lower-ticket-prices.html

    They made this a "prime game" trying to gouge the ticket buying public. They also charge more "fees" for walk up sales and single ticket buyers trying to buy thru ticket bastard. They actually discourage impulse buying. You can get away with this crap if you are in New York, Boston or Chicago but you can't get away with it here.

    Do away with the parking meters on the street. If a person wants to go to fergs a hour or more before the game ,grab a beer and meet up with friends at least you have them hostage once they are inside. You can't sell anything be it a hotdog, beer or t-shirt unless you get them in a seat.
    Make it a party to go to the game.

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  10. It appears the Rays may have put too much of their advertising budget into season ticket sales prior to the season. It was by design, and took away from promoting individual games. And last year walk-up ticket sales were a large percentage of sales.

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  11. Corbitt says:

    I definitely don't see the walk up sales in the games I've gone to this year. Parking being raised to $15 this year for less than 4 people might be discouraging some of that though

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  12. GitReal says:

    Why would the Phillies vs. Rays be a big draw? We got our asses handed to us by the Phils in the series and the games in Philadelphia simply prove why baseball is more about greed than preserving the tradition of the game. The weather was horrible and would have been better IF the series were played the 1st week of October. I know the excuses are you need the ectra time to get out of the playoffs but that's only true to show the games in prime time TV.

    I'd love to see a world series game played during the day on a weekday.

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  13. David says:

    Now the lack of advertising is the excuse? The locals see a big sign advertising every game. And the ballpark is basically a neighborhood ballpark. Are you for real? If you were blind I'd understand, but a big white arena with a big sign next to it is all the advertising that you will ever need.

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    • David says:

      Really though, the people with "economy problems" that can only go to a ball game when something besides a boring ol' baseball game is being advertised really have to realize how much bull these excuses are. You're taking a Major League baseball team for granted. Not a lot of people can say, "Hey, I'm going to the AL Champs game tonight. The ball park is walking distance from my house!" Is the bridge from Tampa to St. Pete too long? I live 2 hrs. south from the Trop and I haven't been to one game this year. But if I lived in St. Pete, a 20 dollar bill is all you need to get ticket, a hot dog, and a drink to watch a Rays game so you bet I'd go to one any chance I get. So unless you have a $1,000 income or if everyone in St. Pete is homeless, nobody here has a legitimate reason to not be one of the 30,000+ fans to sell out a MLB game in your own backyard.

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      • Brendan says:

        wow Dave, living 2 hours away is not a excuse. I live in Fort Wayne IN and I've been 2 games this year at the Trop. I've also drove 3 hours to see them in Cleveland. Last Year I went to Rays games in Chicago (2 1/2 hours)If not held up by construction, Detroit (2 1/2 hours) and Cleveland.

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  14. Amanda says:

    Cork, do you read the second quote from Silverman as a thought to move it to somewhere else in the community, or a thought to move the team to anywhere else in the country?

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    • Hard to be certain what the team's intent is, but I think the insinuation is that St. Pete/Pinellas is not the long-term answer. But doe that mean Tampa is? Or would Sternberg just sell?

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  15. leningan says:

    David, Not sure what you're point is. We should all be going to every game irregardless of the time, cost, opponent or other obligations. Yet, two hours prevents you from going at all and absolves you from all blame. As for laughing at the state of the economy... that's rich. What bubble are you living in that has not been affected? Concerning the concert series... those games are all on a Saturday night, have been planned well in advance, cannot be watched on TV, and yes, people are more likely to come when there is an added benefit like a concert.
    Red Sox and Yankee games will always sellout. Those teams travel, those dates are highlighted as soon as the schedule is released. Moreover, the amount of red sox and yankee (and phillies) transplants living in the bay area is (sadly) larger than the amount of "die hard" Rays fans. This will take nearly a decade of good on-the-field product to correct. The "neighborhood park" you speak of is laughable. Have you been to the Trop's "neighborhood"? Maybe last year?... for the playoffs?

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    • Amanda says:

      David,

      I'll pretend this year is 10 years ago when I'm living and working down there. (That is to say, with the current incarnation of this team and current economic situation, not the '99 Devil Rays.) I would be so pissed at your comment, it's not funny. I struggled to get by when I was living down there. I made just enough to make ends meet (For the most part, I was making around $10/hour in the field in which I got my bachelor's degree: Journalism). There was two years that I went without cable television, using my only entertainment money ($50/month) to spend on cable internet so I could keep connected with my family and play online games. The radio was my best friend. And you would want me to travel from Brandon to St. Pete for 81 days, and spend my money that I didn't have just so I can be a number in the stand?!!! THAT'S WHY WE'RE IN THIS ECONOMIC MORASS RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE PEOPLE SPENT MONEY THEY DIDN'T HAVE AND BOUGHT THINGS THEY COULDN'T AFFORD!!!! Sorry for shouting, but that just makes me angry.

      And Kelley, although I live near Charlotte, one of the places rumored for the Rays to go, I don't want them to move. That team needs to stay in the Bay area. (Charlotte can barely sell out the Panthers games, even when they're good, and the city sits on the border between two states. The Rays won't succeed here, no way, no how.)

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      • David says:

        I wasn't going after Rays fans with economy problems. I'm sure that there are at least 30,000 out of the 250,000(or more) in St. Pete as well as the 340,000 in Tampa(going by Wikipedia estimates, not sure if they're accurate)can fill up the ball park. Please though, before you make me the enemy of all those who have economic problems, try seeing my point. I apologize for the confusion and I hope that your economic problems have been resolved.

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    • David says:

      I apologize for the confusion sir. So I'll just pick at everything you said to me like you picked at everything I said. So first off, lets talk about how rich I am and how I'm in a bubble that protects me from economic problems. I am 17. I do not have a car. Or a job. My income is 20 dollars per week mowing lawns. So now that that's out of the way, here is why I called the ball park a neighborhood park. Last time I went to a Rays game was when they were the D-Rays in 2007. That doesn't really support why I'm calling it that, but here is why. Also in 2007, I went up to my cousins to go to a Bucs game the following day. That night though, the Gators were playing and we went to a sports bar to catch the game on the same night the Yankees and D-Rays were playing. My cousin said to me, "Wow, they are playing tonight? If I wasn't taking you to the Bucs game tomorrow, we'd go to that game. The ballpark is like right there." I rest my case.

      P.S.
      You have no idea how badly I wanted to go to a Rays playoff game last year. I live with a family that are fans of the Rays, but were not as passionate about it as I was to make the trip. That's right, I live with the very people that I am complaining about.

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  16. Kelley says:

    I'm with Amanda. I'm so worried the Rays are going to move across the country somewhere. I ask my husband almost every day if he's heard anything about the Rays moving. Also, we're in Sarasota and we have 3 kids ages 6, 4, and 1 and we still all come to several games. Anyone who comes with a 1 year old must be a diehard fan because I sure get to watch more of the game and have a more relaxing time watching at home! But I'll keep going to the games with my 1 year old because I love the Rays and I don't want them to move out of the Tamba Bay area.

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  17. Bryan says:

    News flash for Silverman...

    While I will bash attendance at the Trop to the ends of the Earth in some situations, this is not one of them. I do not care who it is against, it should come as no surprise to Silverman that a week night game did not sell well. As long as the Rays are 45 minutes away from their primary customers, games that do not end until 10 on a work night are not going to fare well. Silverman should be happy that weekend attendance is up because that is controllable for the club. Week night attendance will never be good.

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