Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune spoke with Stuart Sternberg about the Rays season so far (“our bullpen has been a pleasant surprise.”), about Joe Maddon (“We get guys who leave here and aren’t as successful…We bring new guys to the Rays and they are a little more successful than they’ve been.”) and of course attendance (emphasis ours)…

“It is what it is…It could be better and should be better. I know we can’t sustain ourselves like this. It hasn’t gotten better. If anything, it’s worse. We had another successful year last season and the economy, while it’s not good, has not gotten worse, but our numbers I think will be down, coming off a postseason appearance. It’s unheard of…People are watching us on TV and listening on the radio. I walk around and I see all the hats. I want to have a team that’s going to be able to compete, but we can’t lose money year in and year out, hand over fist…To run a payroll like we do now, basically the second-lowest in baseball, and barely keep our nose above water, we can’t sustain that.

Well…we don’t know if there is anything left to say. Is he right? Probably. Are the finances as bad as he says they are? Maybe. Is it depressing to hear the owner talk in such a negative fashion? Yep. Are people going to go to more games just because Sternberg says Doomesday is coming? We doubt it.

The Rays are drawing just 17,954 per game which 29th in baseball, ahead of just the Marlins. Attendance is also down 19 percent from a year ago.

 
 

12 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    It’s pretty obvious that stadium attendance would be better in Tampa. Not great, but better. Maybe enough to get us up to 20th in the league.

    But the fact of the matter is that it’s going to take 4-5 years, AT BEST, before a new stadium is decided on.

    So until then we’re just going to have to deal with the fact that our team will be handcuffed by our stadium and hope they are patient enough to just keep doing what they’ve been doing.

    In all likelihood though, this is likely a factor that will hold us back from competing in another World Series.

  2. Don says:

    There is NOThing worse than a successful businessman crying poverty..its not only in baseball but all types of business…
    What exactly is their motive: Made the poor idiot on the street making $35,000 a year feel sorry for them and start spending more money on Their business….We all would like the Rays to be here but if they aren’t here, there is plenty of other things to do..how do WE get hurt…stuie….this is NOT cleveland….

  3. Bob says:

    Attendance will get better over the summer now that school is out and some big Yankees and Red Sox series are coming to town. We have not had many of the big league matchups in town much this season up to this point. Sternberg knows that but he’ll continue to campaign for the new stadium using what he can until he gets some movement from some city or investing group, and who can blame him? He can’t stay where he is now forever….

  4. Chris says:

    The 6:40 starts are not helping an already difficult situation. I’m all for Sternberg using leverage to get out of the Trop, as long as it gets the team to Tampa. That being said, its a scary game of Russian roulette.

  5. Gus says:

    Other “unheard” of things:

    Dismantling the AL East champions by cutting the payroll in half and then complaining about attendance when you are in the black before the first pitch of the season is thrown.

  6. Mike says:

    Hey Stu,
    Further alienate the fans you have. Perhaps you should look at your PR problem and fire your entire marketing department. Your advertising sucks. You need to embrace Tampa Bay, until you do, no one is going to financially or emotionally invest in your team. Who wants to care about a team that is constantly threatening to leave? Look at what Vinick has done with the Lightning. He has merged the team with the area brilliantly. Embrace the local culture and the fans and you will see results. Put “Tampa Bay” on the road uniforms, let us know you are committed to us, then we will commit to you.

    • Joe says:

      For the record, “Mike” isn’t me. This and other reasons are precisely why Tampa Bay needs to come back to the road uniforms. Not just for branding, but the idea that we are in this thing together.

      Gentlemen like Mike and Gus get it, while Stu doesn’t get it. And unfortunately, members of the Tampa Bay press and media don’t get it either, making the whole thing feel like a dictation and the owner putting down the fans when that may not necessarily be the target audience.

      We as Rays fans and ESPECIALLY Tampa BAY fans lose in this deal. It’s obvious he is out of patience and out of team. He KNEW what he bought and by every known metric, has tripled his investment. But that doesn’t appear to be enough, does it?

      Let the locals deal with it. Stu at this point doesn’t know how to get what he wants. Say thanks, and bid yourself a good day and stay in New York, please. Don’t play a quid pro quo game with fans, because the fans of the Tampa BAY Rays are passionate even if they don’t show it with their wallet, they show with their eyeballs and ears!

  7. Sell the team to someone who can afford a rich man’s playtoy. I hate when a dozen business whiz’s pool together enough jack for a down payment on a team and then steal all the positive cash flow for service on the debt. If you can’t write a check for the full amount of the team and not miss the money, then you can’t afford to own a team. Sell it to someone who can afford it. Gus is right.

    Gus says:
    June 8, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Other “unheard” of things:

    Dismantling the AL East champions by cutting the payroll in half and then complaining about attendance when you are in the black before the first pitch of the season is thrown.

  8. Michael says:

    Miguel makes some good points.

    I just hope Stu moves the show to Tampa before he sells the team.

  9. Rg says:

    Neil deMause makes a pretty good point. $tu calls the Trop a dump and then complains when the fans don’t show up. That’s some pretty savvy marketing there $tu.

    http://www.fieldofschemes.com/news/archives/2011/06/4581_sternberg_rays.html

  10. Michelob says:

    I wonder what the attendance wold be like if Stu had had the good sense to sound excited about the team, and to not be so down about the area all the time. He needs to market the team MUCH better.

  11. Don says:

    I’ve been in Marketing/sales all my life…when sales are not good..the marketing/sales people have to be the 1st to take the heat…..
    Only in Sports is “build it and they will come” a slogan/philosphy…
    SELL your product to the customers (fans) and they will buy a good product!

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