Did you hear the joke about how four fans walked into The Trop to watch a Rays game and nobody else was there! Oh, that one kills us every time! Or how about the joke about the Rays latest giveaway promotion: a foul ball for every fan! That one always makes us ell-oh-ell.

According to a large portion of the national media, there were about 12 people at The Trop last night to watch the Rays beat the Yankees and grab a share of the Wild Card lead.

And all we can do is yawn.

Rays attendance is bad. No doubt about it. And if you ask 14 different people why the attendance is bad, you will get 38 different answers. And all of them are right. But according to the talking heads, the only reason attendance is bad is because we suck as fans.

And the bad attendance makes us, the fans, the butt of unoriginal and tiring jokes. It can be frustrating.

But really, why should we care? The jokes are old and unoriginal. They require no thought or creativity. They are lame. And every time some pink hat-wearing fan, or talking head on the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader” cracks a joke about attendance it is because they can’t find anything original to say or anything negative to say about the team.

Sure we could point out that the Red Sox won 92 games in 1998, made the playoffs, and finished 9th in the American League in attendance. And that was in a good economy. Sure we could point to the time in the 80s and early 90s when New York was a Mets town and the Yankees couldn’t give tickets away.

But who cares. Every team has had attendance problems. And the only reason people care about the Rays attendance right now is because the team is good. We’d rather have the lame attendance jokes, than the lame “Devil Rays suck” jokes.

So we will take this bullet. We will ignore the ignorance. And maybe, just maybe, it will mean a little less pressure on the Rays.

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27 Comments

  1. CC says:

    To all the assholes who say shit about our attendance. The real unemployment in this area is 20%. That's 1 out of every 5 working age person. And by the way if you receive a maximum check from the state of Fl for your unemployment, it less than $300 a week.Compare that to other MLB states.Now out of those people who have children that they would take to a game add that number into the mix. Now add the retirees who are on a fixed income and have not had an increase in their social security in 2 years. If you estimate that number of people and subtract that from the the total population of the Tampa bay area. Does not leave to many people.The actual attendance in not to friggin bad. Now shut you damn mouths and do a little research.

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  2. BW says:

    If attendance is bad when a team is losing and attendance is bad when a team is winning, MAYBE the attendance problem has nothing to do with winning or losing!!!!!!

    I'm so sick of reading articles that say "well the Rays have done their part..." or "the Bucs have done their part..." If that WERE the case and everyone all of a sudden showed up once teams were winning then we really WOULD be awful fans.

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  3. TW says:

    This has to be the dumbest thing I've ever read.

    You act like you actually showed up when the economy was good. You didn't.

    You act like other cities in American aren't feeling the pressure of high unemployment. They are.

    If you make the World Series, I guarantee you you'll sell out. When tickets are more expensive. Because then, and only then, will the Rays be cool and you'll act like you care.

    Of course if I had to watch baseball in a shoebox with 4 catwalks and roaming power outages, I may not go either.

    You're the worst fans in baseball. And its a shame, because you have the best-run team in baseball. Go out and watch them play, sometime.

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  4. jim says:

    You can blame it on the unemployment, the location, the weather, the stadium or whatever else you want. But no matter what the blame is, less than 19,000 for the biggest game of the year, vs the best team in baseball, with a chance to tie for the playoffs, is downright pathetic.

    It’s not the stadium, the product or the location. It’s apathy on the fans part. Many of us could have drug our asses out to the trop last night, but chose HD tv instead. Are we fans or viewers? All of you that place blame on the trop or st pete, why don’t the bucs sell out? Newer stadium, no bridges, winning record. Hell Monday night isn’t even a sellout yet! APATHY!!

    Like I said in a previous, I can’t blame any local politician for not supporting a new stadium. How could you blame them? Do you honestly think after the “new” wears off the new stadium that we’re going to pack an 30,000 a night into it? No way will this area provide those kind of numbers over the long haul. We are a transient state that keeps their hometown sports allegiance and that’s never going to change. If building a stadium was such a great money maker and likely to turn a profit, private groups would be beating down the rays door with offers.

    Why are the red sox 9th? Stadium size, 101% packed. 2nd highest in MLB. Ours is 55% sold out. Nice try though cork.

    I have attended a handful of games this year and last. So I bare some of the blame. I was a half season ticket holder in 07, 08, and 09. The rays decided in ’10 to jack up my ticket prices by 35% each. It was going to cost me and my family the same for 2 tickets in ’10 that it did in ’09. In this economy that is completely unexceptable!! Out of our section, there were very, very, few renewals. We felt as though they completely took a huge dump on us and we chose to spend our entertainment money elsewhere. They call me every year to renew, and I fill their ears full each time. Don’t hose me and then beg me back. I talked to cork about all of this a couple of years ago. It really didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. Why would you raise prices through the roof is your trying to put butts in the seats in order to justify building a new stadium?

    do i blame Stu if he decides to leave? sort of, they took a piss on a bunch of their true fans a couple of years back for a money grab and now they are constantly bitching about fans not showing up.

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  5. jim says:

    atlanta has unemployment similiar to ours, and their unemployment wages aren't far off of ours either (low $300's). their ticket prices are close to ours. they are in a playoff hunt with 3 games left facing the best team in their league.

    they averaged 29800 this year, and put 40,000 in the seats last night.
    we averaged 18690 this year and put 19,000 in the seats last night.

    sugar coat it, make excuses, 19,000 is unbelievably low. and yes "fans" will show up for the playoffs, somehow their wallets will mysteriously open up and find money when it's fashionable.

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    • CRRaysHead90 says:

      Let me ask you something, if you had limited money, would you save that money for a fight for a playoff spot, or a playoff game? Why don't you start thinking like a person in a financial struggle, then and only then will you understand Tampa Bay's dilemma.

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      • jim says:

        yeah that $14 ticket is going to break the bank and prevent soooo many people from having to plop down around $500 in advance for a playoff ticket. which is the only sure way you will get you hands on a postseason ticket. your point doesn't hold water.

        once again, atlanta is in the same boat, and a crapload of people showed up on a monday. and your best excuse is people are being thrify and not spending $14 because they're saving up and willing to drop $500 if there is a future.

        BS, it's trendy and fashionable to go to the playoffs. you can brag about it to your friends, and it's that makes it worth the money and effort of actually going to a game. does that make them or you "fans"?

        and your boycott thing is a complete joke. once again, "fans" don't care who the owner is. excuses, excuses!

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    • Sarah says:

      I swore I'd resist any more attendance talk but I just can't let obvious errors go unchallenged. Are you really comparing Atlanta to Tampa Bay as a market?

      2008 Population:
      Atl metro area 5.3 million TB: 2.7 million

      2011 unemployment rate

      AT: 7.9 TB 11.1

      2008 median income

      AT: $52,000 TB $37,406

      Fortune 500 companies headquartered in region

      AT: 10 TB 2

      So now -- let's stop wasting our time with this garbage, please. Once the season is over we will have no real baseball to enjoy until March, and we can have every post be a rehash of the attendance discussion. But until that time -- let's talk baseball. Go Rays!

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      • jim says:

        great sarah, that would explain why their attendance is better than ours. they have a bigger market. please explain why 10,000 more people showed up for a monday game compared to their average, vs 0 at our big game.

        we are diehard fans or we wouldn't be on this site. the average rays "fan" is a "viewer", not a true fan.

        19,000 is once again pathetic!!!!!!

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        • CC says:

          Jim you are an ignorant asshole

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          • jim says:

            so i completely blow your "i'm gonna not spend $14 so i can hopefully spend $500" theory out of the water. and the best you can do is call me an asshole. wow, who's theory makes more sense? we have a diluted fan base or we're poor so we're saving up to blow $500 on a couple of playoff games?

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          • jim says:

            sorry that wasn't you. but you have some great insight on the topic. thanks for the post it was outstanding.

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  6. jim says:

    cork and others that place any blame on the trop or location.

    in 2017 (five years after opening) do you think that the marlins will draw and average of 30,000 fans to their new ballpark? that's what stu and company expect, 30,000 minumum at the trop.

    jags, dolphins, bucs, marlins, rays, panthers, lightning. all struggle to put fans in the seats. to much competition for entertainment dollars, to many residents that will never accept the local team as "their team".

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    • Jordi says:

      Jim, good point. I covered that in my post last year. In 1980, there were 9 million people in FL with 2 pro teams (Dolphins and Bucs). Now, there are 18 million people and 9 pro teams. That's not including college sports. Fans are spread too thin. That's the bottom line.

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  7. Gus says:

    PECOTA had us 10-12 games behind Sox and Yankees. Cool Standings has given us less than 5% chance of making the playoffs since June. There are some mitigating circumstnaces here. But as always, the biggest factor is the fact that Sternberg has not operated ina fashion conducive to building the season ticket base. When you tell people the stadium is inconvenient to get to and inadequate and then tell the fans closest to you that their part of the community isn't worthy of his $40M payroll team, people aren't going to support you blindly.

    It is a shame, because this is a really worthy group of players and coaches, guys who have star power and potential and have played their butts off with little support of management. Hopefully the support builds through the playoffs.

    But there is not doubt: nobody in or out of the organization was expecting this or is prepared for this. The Sox collapse is manna from baseball heaven.

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  8. zenny says:

    Man, it's so predictable - start an attendance discussion and the ignorant out-of-towners show up.

    The Bucs and Lightning have drawn very well in the very recent past. But right now, the area's economy sucks. Unfortunately, the Rays won the 2008 pennant at the worst possible time to capitalize on it. When the economy recovers around here, attendance will increase, especially if the Rays get an innovative and better-located venue at the same time.

    And one thing NOBODY ever mentions is that the (Devil) Rays got off on the wrong foot from the very beginning. Yeah, Namoli was a PR nightmare, but I'm talking even before that.

    St. Pete was awarded an expansion team right after the 1994 work stoppage, the worst moment for MLB since the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. The general feeling was that the owners needed a quick cash infusion and awarded teams to us and Phoenix because they wanted the steep franchise fees. As such, the celebration around here was almost non-existent even though we'd been trying to land a team for years.

    Even before that, Tampa Bay was already pissed at baseball for dropping all kinds of hints that we were a lock for the first round of expansion in 1991 but then awarding teams to Denver and Miami instead.

    So there are a lot of reasons why the Rays haven't built up a large group of ticket-buying fans yet. Like I said, I think it'll come if they stay competitive until the economy improves.

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  9. jim says:

    the bucs attendance has stunk recently and the lightning is in the bottom half of the nhl, and just a couple of years ago they were at the very bottom. the only reason the bucs had sales so well for so long was because of the PSLs. does the economy suck, yes. but blaming it for miserable attendance is a cop out. the bucs lost tens of thousands of fans in a single season, not due to the economy, but due to the seat licenses expiring.

    think about it guys, for every diehard rays fan in the area, there's a sox fan, a yankees fan, a philly fan, and a tiger fan. it's not like that in most other markets. we are already a small market, once you subtract all the other fans, that doesn't leave much. our market is much smaller than numbers indicate. one of the previous poster factored in old people, someone needs to factor in transplant fans. they simply are never going to cough up cash to see anything other than a new stadium. so once the new wears off, then we are right back to where we are now.

    look at the other florida teams, they are all struggling. do you honestly think it's a coincedence? answer my question. will the marlins be drawing 30000 a night in 5 years? yet somehow you think the rays will be different in a part of the state, with less population, less money and less exposure. you're dreaming.

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    • zenny says:

      You have your facts wrong. The Lightning returned to the playoffs last year after several seasons of suck and their attendance immediately jumped over 20%. (Of course, they play in downtown Tampa. Just sayin'...)

      Before the economic downturn, the Bolts were among the league leaders in attendance and the Bucs sold out every game in the CITS for many seasons in a row. In better economic times, the Tampa Bay area has supported multiple sports teams.

      It takes time to build a fan base. As explained below in another comment, the (D)-Rays got off to a horrible start from the very beginning of the franchise. Once they actually took the field-turf, they were awful, with unlovable players, an unlovable owner, and a facility that felt more like a big-box discount warehouse than a ballpark.

      Stu Sternberg and the front office changed everything besides the location of the Trop, but the effects have only been noticeable to the ticket-buying public for last 3-4 years. Given time, the Rays die-hard fan base will continue to grow. Given a better economy, general public and corporate ticket sales will grow as well, especially with a new stadium in a better location.

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      • jim says:

        The bucs sold out because they won a superbowl, had a new stadium, and had people locked into their seats with PSLs.

        My facts aren’t wrong on the bolts. Here are the numbers it sits 20K for hockey, show me where these “sellout” years are. Yes they’re wrapped around Stanley cup years, when it was trendy and fashionable to be a hockey fan. Other than that, it’s around 75% or less capacity and that in no way shape or form leads the NHL. The numbers don’t lie, you have a selective memory.

        and yes they jumped up last year and will again this year, because of the bandwagon fans, just like the stanley cup years. this is extremely troubling when you apply it toward the rays. jesus what would the attendance be if we go back to a sub-500 team?

        11 17268
        10 15497
        09 16497
        08 18692
        07 19876
        06 20509
        04 17820
        03 16545
        02 15722
        01 14906

        look, i'm not an outsider, and i'm not hacking on our local teams. i'm just trying to tell you that this is a very diluted fan base, and that the numbers back up most of my statements. without hometown loyality, which will never happen in florida, we are always going to struggle with attendance. we can build a brand new stadium and it will help for a few years with the rays, but then we're back to 12K on a tuesday night. look at raymond james and forgive me if i laugh at the "boycott" crap.

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        • zenny says:

          Um, some of those Lightning attendance numbers you posted were among the best in the NHL for those seasons.

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          • jim says:

            Once again, the numbers were up due to the Stanley cup. Those aren’t fans they’re bandwagon riders that show up because it’s trendy and fashionable.

            You can’t call that a fanbase and if you the front offices know that they can’t count on these people to even show up for the next game, much less the next season. People that show up to be seen and fans of opposing teams are not a fanbase. And yes that makes up a lot of the “fans” in the seats at sporting events around here.

            once again, and again, do you honestly think that we will EVER average 30,000 a night for a baseball game over an extended period of time in this area? i'm not talking a year or two? if people won't pay $14 for a yankees ticket with a playoff spot on the line at the trop, then why would they pay $28 dollars vs the yankees in a 5 year old stadium on a monday night?

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  10. DL says:

    ughh...does anyone have a headache from all the ignorant attendance talk? Here's the bottom line: The average season ticket base for ANY team is 2/3 corporate, 1/3 fans. For the Rays, it is switched. If the Rays had more corporate support, it would make a HUGE difference. But in this economy, with companies laying off employees, I don't think they have a big concern for tickets in their budget. Rays need corporate support, just like any other team. And a move to an area that can provide more of that is much needed. The Rays don't need to average 30k a night to be successful. 25k a night would be more than sufficient. Move the stadium to an area with a better population base within a 15min-30 min drive, and can offer more corporate support, and we will no longer be having this conversation.

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  11. jim says:

    stu and company want 30,000 a night. they've said it over and over. and that's at the trop. once again nobody answered my marlins question, so i assume that you don't think theres any way that they will draw that down there.

    30,000 is over 50% more than we draw now. do any of you honestly think that somehow 50% more "fans" are going to show up? that's a huge number, especially when the tickets are likely to cost more.

    so for all you economy people. in 2007, what were the numbers? the economy hadn't completely tanked yet, were there corporations on board then? nope.

    bottom line, in philly, 95% of the population that follow baseball is a philly fan. in green bay, 99% of the people that care about football are packers fans. in tampa you already have a huge population that could honestly care less about baseball, and then honestly of the baseball fans maybe 50% of them are rays fans. wait till the bandwagon parks, and take a look around on the cars and in your office. for every rays fan, there is a fan of other teams. our market is diluted.

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    • zenny says:

      You're reaching. In 2007, the Devil Rays lost 90+ games for the 10th consecutive season. They had never NOT lost over 90 in the history of the franchise. They were a joke of a franchise and had never been anything different.

      No team can expect good fan support under those conditions.

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      • jim says:

        if i quote a previous poster, we have 2 fortune 500 companies in our area, we have very low income, we have a bunch of old people. where is this 50% increase in fans supposed to come from? people aren't moving here as much, the economy doesn't show any signs of improving, so where in the hell are you going to get 30K a night from?

        if my 2007 is a stretch, then your "winner" theory is a huge stretch. didn't we win the AL east last year. didn't our attendance and tv viewers drop significantly?

        a winner doesn't seem to help, free parking? bring in your own food and drinks? oh i know, let's pony up $750 million and hope they'll show up for more than 3 years. wow don't you think that's a bit of a stretch.

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