Tom Jones of the St. Pete Times, who writes the blog “Tom Jones’ 2¢,” names the teams he believes have the most and least supportive fans in the major sports.

And who gets the honor of the “Least Supportive” fans in Major League Baseball? St. Pete’s own Tampa Bay Rays

Least supportive: Tampa Bay fans set records for watching the Rays on television, but the criticism fans get for not showing up at Tropicana Field is deserved. Blame the economy, blame stadium location, blame whatever you want. Bottom line: The Rays had the second-best record in baseball last season but played to only 52 percent capacity. The other teams that played to less than 60 percent capacity last season were the Marlins, Mariners, Nationals, Royals, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Indians, A’s and Blue Jays. Of those teams, only one had a winning record. And that was the Blue Jays, who finished fourth in the American League East. It also included all six of the majors’ last-place teams.

First of all, why use “percent capacity” as a measure of fan support? Would the Rays suddenly have the most supportive fans if the Trop’s capacity was only 20,000?

And second of all….what the eff Brutus? We have to read this crap from national writers all the time. Writers that always fail to mention the economy and the TV ratings. You mention that stuff and still bash the attendance. The same attendance that has shown steady growth in recent years despite the economy.

2¢ for this? We want our money back.

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26 Comments

  1. Raysfan137 says:

    Alright, Cork, you gained some points for the post. It seems to be en vogue to bash the Rays for attendance and Tom Jones is just jumping on the bandwagon.

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  2. Steve says:

    I'm so tired of the winning creates attendance canard. Obviously it generates interest, but it doesn't generate personal wealth.. I actually think Hank Steinbrenner (egad!) has the right idea. Don't put teams into small markets. Basically contract MLB to about 8-10 cities who have the population density to generate sell outs every night. It won't matter that nobody south of Charlotte will care about baseball but at least you'll have the Yankees and Red Sox every night and that darn revenue sharing dead forever. I've waivered on the attendance issue but I'm going to start sticking to the unpopular truth - - the Rays average attendance should be considered eye-poppinlgy good for anybody who takes the time to study the area's economic and demographic profile. Move them to Tampa it may increase a little, but somewhere between 22K and 25K is the top end (average) for the Bay area and if that isn't sufficient then let the contractions begin. Figuring out why Tampa Bay is different than New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago is as easy counting.

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    • Hosstyle in Tampa says:

      I don't know if you were being sarcastic, but suggesting that MLB contract the majors to 8-10 teams is ludicrous.

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      • Sarah says:

        I don't know if Steve was being sarcastic, but he was pointing out if we want to keep a system in which there is no salary cap, then logically on 8 - 10 markets are really able to compete financially. Either baseball wants to be a national game (and finds a way to field teams outside of a few major population/business centers) or baseball doesn't care about national reach and sticks to the cities that can draw enough fans and generate enough TV revenue to compete in the current system.

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  3. Mike says:

    Jones' metrics for comparing attendance between cities is apples to oranges. The Yankees pull from 8 million people. The Rays pull from 3 million people. From that perspective, Tampa Bay has a higher % of their population attending games than the Yankees do.

    That being said, I simply do not see how the Rays will survive here. I do not see how they will get funding for a new stadium. And even if they did, once the shine of the new ballpark wears off I can't see 10-20k extra people showing up for games just because the stadium is in Tampa.

    Like most other small market teams in MLB, the Rays can't compete the way baseball is set up. Fans here will not support a "major league" team that serves as a farm system for the NY's, Bostons and Phillies of the world.

    We just lost our best player (Crawford) and the Rays didn't even make an offer because they knew they couldn't retain him. I don't see how we keep Longoria or Price or any other young star once they reach free agency. If the team is going to operate a 60 million dollar payroll, you can't have a quarter of that going to one player.

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  4. ali420 says:

    I was upset at first when I read the article in Friday's paper(as always when someone bashes my team), but when you look at it: The Rays, The Bucs, the Lightning. We don't have the best fanbase. Just accept it. It's true. What we do have though is a solid core of hardcore fans, but outside the core are bandwagon and fairweather fans with little loyalty or interest(I talk to these people at work everyday) The truth is that the fans are "there" but they're not there. We here in the Tampa Bay area are lucky to be living in an area with so much(beaches, beautiful weather, ect...) what the hell do they have in Boston? Whitey Ford and sports. In some cities sports is all they have...

    also....this area has the highest percentage of people that work or live 30 minutes or further from the stadium. It's hard for people to go to the games on a daily bases(not me though I live 15 minutes from the stadium....it's great) when instead after work they can just relax on the couch and turn on the game....

    Fans receive personal validation of their support for a team when surrounded by fans who also support the same team.....unfortunately we don't get too much of that around here, because there's always someone around the corner supporting another team.....feels bad man

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    • D-Rome says:

      Oh my, I just made your same argument. I didn't see your post until after I wrote mine. Yes, you are correct in regards to the percentage of fans that live or work within a half hour drive of the Trop. It does matter.

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  5. Don says:

    "TOM JONES" better stick to signing because obviously his sports commetary is worth 2c so why give him any hype at all?
    Take him for what he is worth

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    • Scot says:

      As Tom would say,

      It's not unusual to be loved by anyone (like Rays fans)
      It's not unusual to have fun with anyone (like with the Red Sox)
      but when I see you hanging about with anyone (such as cheering for the Sox)
      It's not unusual to see me cry,
      oh I wanna' die (or be contracted)

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      • Camby says:

        Beautiful Scot.

        For 2 cents I'd much rather hear Wayne Newton's opinion on the subject, or Sigfried and Roy for that matter.

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  6. D-Rome says:

    Most baseball stadiums have a fan base where at least 50% either live or work within a 1/2 hour drive of the stadium. I believe for the Rays only 19% of the prospective fan base live or work within a 1/2 hour drive of the Trop. If it's not 19% it's certainly a very low number close to that. In short, stadium location does matter. The area can support the Rays but not in it's current situation.

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    • Gus says:

      Where in the Bay, then, shall we construct the new stadium? At the hump of the Franklin?

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      • D-Rome says:

        There are plenty of better locations in the Bay Area. You may not like what I'm saying but it doesn't make what I'm saying any less valid.

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        • Gus says:

          It is a georgaphic problem. Neither side is big enough to support the team by itself. If you want to be a half hour drive for most people, you have to put it in the Bay or on the edge of the Bay. But at some point the diminishing returns kick in -- is it better to be stadium debt free and have the team be 10 minutes further from the foot of the bridge or is it worse to be kicking in $15M a year (or more) from the payroll to finance a new stadium in a more centralized location (assuming you could find one) that is going to attract some new fans, but also lengthen the drive for other fans?

          I do agree that the drive-time study is important -- but half hour can't be the only measure of distance: 10 minutes and 1 hour away are also important metrics. The Rays don't have trouble drawing on weekends with a decent team on the field -- that shows that the one hour metric is important for those games. My point is that NO location is a half hour drive(on weekdays) for any significant majority of Tampa Bay's spread out population that is divided and surrounded by water. You move to say, Channelside, then you've taken the Bradenton fans easy 30 minute drive and made it a toruture test of 1 hour. So trade Bradenton for New Tampa, what is the marginal increase?

          If you were starting from scratch would you put the stadium in a more centralized location? Sure. But is it the primary reason why the Rays are 22nd out of 30 in attendance? Nope. You've got far more critical factors of economy, corporate support, losing history of the franchise, the seasonal nature of some of Florida's wealthiest residents, the loyalty of northern fans to their boyhood teams.

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  7. The BIZ says:

    I just dont get it. I really dont, he is covering sports for the fan base and decides to put every ray fan down.

    "Blame the economy, blame stadium location, blame whatever you want."

    why does he get to just diregard these major factors? Last time I checked if your watching on TV you are still supporting the team. This was just a blantany swip at a fan base that is already being kicked over and over by the national media. I expect better than that from our writers. I thank you Cork for defending us. Somebody has to.

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  8. Steve says:

    The issue of attendance is driven by population density. I live in Connecticut and all the fans who criticize the Rays go to a handful of games each year. Nobody goes to 81 games a year, but when you have 10 million plus people to draw from you find a fanny per seat pretty much every night. Part of the problem is that in the never ending quest for media content on a 24 hour cycle, writers, pundits, etc will just write whatever they want. I was being sarcastic about contraction but I'm so sick of the conspiracy between SI, ESPN and MLB that I'd love to see MLB go back to old-time hockey and have a 6 team league - - I think even the bandwagon Yankees and Red Sox fans would get sick of that scenario.

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  9. Joel M. says:

    Attaboy, Cork. Thanks for sticking up for us against the smug Jones who's very impressed with himself. You nailed him.

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  10. Joe says:

    My point is and I will keep it brief here, is why be a fan of anything in the Bay area?! You got subterfuge going on with the owner of the Rays badmouthing political and civic leaders of St. Petersburg with "intractable St. Petersburg bureaucrats". I have had it! This is not fun, and why aren't the Rays being protective of their fans?! The conspiracy goes beyond what anyone thinks between ESPN, elitist Northeasterners and MLB, but it includes the Rays as well!

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  11. Edward says:

    Here we go again, it's a new year so let the fan bashing begin. I simply don't understand it, the rays attendance was 22nd in the league last year, so let's contract them, of course they only have about 2 - 3 million people to draw from, but hey that doesn't matter. Ok , we as fans suck, if i remember right, (and i could be wrong) but when the lightning won the stanley cup , weren't they selling out continuosly the next year, in one of the biggest arena's in hockey, when the bucs won the super bowl all you kept hearing about was the waiting list, and how every game was sold out. Now to the rays, if i remember correctly again, hasn't our attendance gone up every year since 2008, it might not be what stu wants, but as the stones said,"you can't always get what you want". Oh and did we not sell out every playoff and world series game. I for one am tired of hearing how bad we are as fans, i don't blame stu for wanting to get as much money as he can, but stop with the trashing of the people whose money you want. As for the press in this town, maybe they should start writing articles on the players that actually play for the team that belongs to the town, and stop whining about attendance. I will continue to go to the games, because i love baseball and the management has put out a good product. But please do something with marketing the team and not bashing the fans. Thanks cork for letting me get this off my chest. Go rays.

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    • Joe says:

      See, I agree with you. But I think Stu is part of the problem here. If he cared, this wouldn't be an issue or less of one.

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      • Sarah says:

        Joe, Stu is a businessman, and the Rays are an investment for him. As a responsible businessman he should put out a good product, which he does. What exactly is his obligation beyond that? What does his "caring" have to do with anything?

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        • Joe says:

          See, again, you are right. In theory, I thought he was more. When he did his "Under Construction" theme back in 2007, I thought he was going to be more. I thought he wanted to be pragmatic and practical. I know what you are saying. In my mind, to get to the end line, Stu Sternberg I thought was more than a businessman, would be more than one and is more than one. Sitting down with hands under your legs accomplishes nothing. Why he isn't offended by the bashing is also undermining to him in the long run too, but again, it works for him.

          If Stu doesn't want to work harder or change course, then this process is on the path to failure. Coach and build up the fans and the area, don't bash and shame them. And Stu is complicitly behind that, unfortunately he is.

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  12. Beth says:

    I'm always irked at being scolded for not attending enough games by sports writers, who 1. go to games as part of their job, and 2. don't have to pay for their seats. I can assure you, if I could go for free -- and as part of my work day-- I'd be there more often.

    Also, I wonder -- if the Florida Orchestra fails to sell all their seats, does the orchestra's conductor complain loudly that the Tampa Bay area is clearly "not a music town" and the orchestra will just leave? Only in the world of professional sports do we assume that the customer is at fault if the product is not selling.

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  13. Why does this guy have a job blogging? I mean, he just bashed the fans of a team that aren't in a hockey state yet still manage to fill the stadium (by his own words) to 86% full? What ya smoking, dude?

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  14. Jeb says:

    Tom Jones should be exposed. Here is a tv/radio reporter/critic who bashes every show on the radio, except JP Petersons, a show he appears on every week. He was on that show whining that he couldnt find the Lightning game on Sunday. As bay area fans know, the Lightning are frequently moved in baseball season to 970 or 1250. If Jones looked to the right of his own column, that info is right there every morning.

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