If you are a masochist and want to read 1,000 words about how much we suck as a fan base and how much Tampa and St. Pete suck as sports towns, then you should head over to Biz of Baseball, and read Maury Brown’s latest piece.

It reads like an article somebody would write if they wanted a job at ESPN.com. This isn’t the first time Brown has bashed Rays fans. And it is just the same stuff we hear from all talking heads that don’t do any research and just regurgitate numbers they hear on Sportscenter.

[Update: As was pointed out in the comments, Brown was a member of the Portland Baseball Group that failed to bring a Major League Baseball team to Portland, Oregon. So when he says "fans in other markets would die to have a team [like the Rays],” he is speaking from first-hand experience. We’ll let you guys decide if that adds any bias to his writing.]

We are going to reserve further comment and just give you the highlights lowlights…

On contraction:

No, Tampa Bay, you’re safe. But, that doesn’t mean you deserve the Rays. Only by luck are you keeping the team. If the opportunity to relocate or contract the club were available, as fast as you can say, “Bud Selig”, I’m betting they would.

(translation: nobody in their right mind would want a baseball team in Tampa Bay area)

On fans and their priorities:

Fans in other markets dream of an owner and GM the likes of which the Rays enjoy. Tampa Bay yawns, goes to bed early, or flips on a sitcom.

(translation: you don’t care)

On Rays fans that don’t write about the team:

The Rays may have some of the finest writers – both mainstream and new – covering them, but the ones that matter the most – the average fan – are below average. They just aren’t there.

(translation: the fans suck, but I hope the writers will still like me)

On why the excuses are stupid:

There will be apologists that will use the location of The Trop. There are fans that will say it’s the economy. Horse pucky. If it were the economy, the television ratings wouldn’t have crashed harder than a rock falling from The Trop’s roof. And, even if the location is poor (and it is), at least the bandwagon would have shown up in the last week of the regular season, but they didn’t.

(translation: who cares if local TV ratings were 5th in baseball just last year and that they are still good. And location of the stadium doesn’t matter. Even if it does! And a 40 percent increase in fans per game over the last seven home games (~26,000) is a crappy bandwagon! Go talk to the Red Sox, those guys know how to bandwagon!)

On being the next Montreal Expos:

Tampa Bay, your name is apathy. You are the last years of the Montreal Expos in terms of attendance with the team being 1994 before the strike (for the record, the Expos averaged 24,543 in the shortened 1994 season. The Rays in 2011 averaged 18,878).

(translation: the stadium’s location still doesn’t matter, even if it does! And the Rays owners would be better off moving the team to Montreal!)

Here’s to the Rays organization. You’re putting up with more than you should, but you have no choice, and that’s a pity.

(translation: we should feel sorry for millionaire owners that only make millions each year instead of tens of millions. Who cares if most fans are struggling to pay their mortgage. But unfortunately, nobody will take your team away from you, so the rest of us have to suffer.)

See? No comments needed.

[Update: since this post went up, Brown has added a paragraph in which he acknowledges that there are some passionate fans, "just not enough." He also added a line at the end in which he says Stuart Sternberg shouldn't bash the fans.]



  1. Ian P says:

    It appears that the author Maury Brown, was part of a group who tried to get an MLB club in Portland, and failed. So it’s probably all just sour grapes.

  2. Beth says:

    Rays attendance has become the gift that keeps giving for sports columnists without anything original to say.

    But, bringing this full circle with the early thread on Sternberg’s comments (which has not reached biblical lengths) — what I’d love to see from the RFO in response to this sort of media drubbing is something like this. “The Rays have thousands of loyal and passionate fans, and we appreciate the support they have given our team. Attendance figures for this past year were disappointing, and we believe that community needs to find long-term solutions to ensure that MLB in the Tampa -St. Pete area remains viable. But our on-going discussions of on these issues should not obscure the gratitude we feel toward the thousands in our area who have shown their support in so many ways.”

    See, that makes the point about long-term concerns but also actually sounds as though the Rays see themselves as part of our community, not as our antagonists. If the Rays have a public relations office beyond Sternberg’s mouth, perhaps they should try sounding more like this.

    • MarkE says:

      Exactly, Beth! You should apply for Rays PR — they’re obviously either not doing their job, or have been silenced by the FO. Your suggestions are spot-on. NONE of the consternation and anger toward the owners would even exist had Sternberg simply given some thought before publicly backhanding the fans. He seems intent on cutting of his nose to spite his face.

      What is lost in all of this “TB fans are lousy” banter is this: NO! the FANS are great, there are just not enough that can afford to attend multiple games. Call the non-attending, lazy, bandwagon fans lousy if you will, but stop referring to the “fans” as sucky. The true Rays fans are great, (and there are a TON of us) and we are getting grouped into this media template that paints the whole area as complacent and lazy.

      Sternberg’s brashness disturbs me. He sounds like someone with something up his sleeve. I hope I’m wrong.

      I’d love to meet “Maury” on the street some day.

  3. Jon L. says:

    I don’t believe that these fans deserve a team. No one shows up to watch! They are one of the best teams in the AL and why doesn’t anyone show up! Doesn’t make one bit of sense to me.

    • Beth says:

      I guess you and I have a very different definition of “no one.”

      • CC says:

        exactly. typical northeast transplant

        • Beth says:

          Hey, I’m also a northeast transplant! But I can still figure out that the 1.5+ million fans who paid to see a Rays game this past season are not “no one.”

          Some of us manage to leave our snotty New York ways behind when we move here!

          • J says:

            That explains why Stu is still snooty–he doesn’t even live in the market.

          • CC says:

            Glad you did Beth. It’s all the people that say “these fans” or when they say how much better it is somewhere else that piss me off. Why are these people living here?

  4. CC says:

    Hey Jon how many games did you go to. To put it bluntly this team is just not entertaining. Stu chopped our payroll nearly in half and got rid of some quality players. This does not pump up a fan base to go out and buy tickets. The Rays started off 0-6 did not make people want to go out and buy tickets.A lineup that hits .236 for the season at home, which is third from the bottom was boring to watch. Getting shutout once a week. Frustrating to watch.Pitching and defense is great but not the most exciting. The only thing really exciting about this season was the last couple of weeks. All year long we watched a team that could not hit with runners in scoring position. Load the bases and they would crap their pants. Sports is about entertainment. Stu’s product is just not that entertaining.Couple that with all the other stuff and this is the reason attendance is low.

  5. J says:

    Stu is a millionaire. So are most of the Rays’ players.

    I can no longer support the Rays financially. Their greed has pushed me to watch from the sidelines (TV and other media). I will not sacrifice my funds to line their pockets.

    If Portland wants an owner, manager, and players who verbally abuse loyal fans (who have to do other things besides take off work to go to baseball games–the nerve!) then be my guest.

    In times like these we need to realize what is important, and for most people in the bay area, even those who are wealthy, baseball is just a “thing” not a lifestyle to support Stu.


    • Dan says:


      I understand your frustration, but see it from a couple perspectives. I encourage you to take a look at $tu’s comments again and see what he really was complaining about. He was complaining about not having the revenue to get the 2 or 3 bats our offense definitely needed if we wanted to make any noise in the playoffs.

      And in all fairness, you don’t have to support a dime. You don’t. But then there shouldn’t be an expectation of a winning product on the field, or the fact that the business is going to move to an area that can support it. People don’t invest in anything to lose money.

      The area can’t have it both ways. They can’t not support and then expect baseball to just always be there. It’s either support and say you want baseball in the area, or just say, we don’t have the money to support and let the business go elsewhere. It doesn’t have to be an ugly divorce…not if both sides are willing to look at reality and face it with a little logic.

      The Rays just want what every other franchise but 1 is getting. And I don’t blame them. If you were working a job and were making less than everyone else around you at the same job, wouldn’t you be upset? I know the difference is that he’s working with more zeros in his paycheck (and with more numbers in front of it), but the same logic applies.

      Don’t go to a game to support some whiny millionaires. Go to enjoy the game. That’s one thing I won’t let millionaires rob me of.

  6. Jeff says:

    Interesting view point. You see I go to the games because I love baseball and I love the Rays. It is something that my 10 year old and I get to do together and creates amazing memories for the both of us. My son is baseball junkie and could care less about payroll, attendance numbers, etc. But he is 10. I as a grown adult fully understand that business side and I could care less about Stu and what he says about the area or the fans. Bottom line this is a better team since he bought it. I ignore the garbage and the poor attendance and the excuses and just enjoy the game with my son.

  7. S says:

    buster olney is all over it also.

    since 2006, the rays and the royals have drawn exactly the same amount of fans. there is ZERO talk about “vaporizing” or “contracting” the royals. why do we get all the heat? because we compete with NY and Boston for playoff spots. that’s the ONLY reason.

  8. CC says:

    Excellent point S.

    • S says:

      so basically if you compete with the big boys on the cheap, and they have to chip in to pay some of your expenses, then they’re pissed and it has to stop.

      yet if you run a crappy organization and can’t figure out how to spend your limited finances, and don’t compete, then they are completely ok with paying the bills.

      that’s the real issue. MLB doesn’t want the smaller markets in the playoffs, it hurts their product in term of advertising dollars in the playoffs. we had one of the worst rated world series in history, they don’t want that to happen again. they’re pissed that we can function and compete on a $50 million payroll and keep two of the largest market out of the picture. where is all the talk about the padres, the pirates, and the royals. all of them have their hands out every year, but rarely compete, so they’re not a threat and therefore fly under the radar.

      • Sarah says:

        Exactly. I can promise you, if the Rays had continued to exist as bottom dwellers, there might be occasional noises about contraction, but there would not be this full frontal assault on Rays fans.

        If the baseball world wants to be outraged about something, why not rail against big market teams that can’t manage to field decent teams and draw crowds commensurate with their market size. Washington and Houston are large metro areas with a lot of corporations and high median incomes, yet they don’t even get 25,000 a night. Per capita, they do a much poorer job of drawing support than Tampa Bay. The White Sox couldn’t average 25,000 a game either, and the Mets underperform badly given the size and wealth of their metro area.

  9. Maury Brown says:

    The coolest thing about this post is that I wrote 95% of it. OK, it’s not cool as most legit bloggers understand what “fair use” policy means :-)

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I’m not stealing a story from you. Your comments are the story. it is called editorialization. This very topic has been debated in the courts several times and has held up just fine. I thought you would know that.

      But since we are on the topic, where did you get those quotes from Sternberg? I don’t see a reference or a link.

      • Rg says:

        Not quoting sources? I believe that’s called
        plagiarism. You’re too subtle Cork.

      • Sarah says:

        As I read his story, the implication is that he got the quotes directly from Sternberg. Maybe he interviewed him?

        • Cork Gaines says:

          those are the exact same quotes that can be found in several news outlets acquired by reporters that were in the locker room on Tuesday afternoon.

          Here is a quote from Brown:

          “When I came in here in ’05 and ’06, I saw the stars, and I was confident that we could put a winning product on the field – - and I was told by you guys and others that all we needed was a winning team,”

          Here is a quote from ESPN.com:


          “When I came in here in ’05 and ’06, I saw the stars, and I was confident that we could put a winning product on the field – - and I was told by you guys and others that all we needed was a winning team,”

          Notice the identical use of a double-dash (sorry it looks like my editor is changing the double-dash to an em dash. still, you can see in the link that they use identical marks). That is something created by the original writer and is unusual in this context. Brown didn’t even bother to re-type it. He just copy-and-pasted.

        • Rg says:

          Maybe he did(I doubt it). Still should quote his sources, even if they are himself. I’ll go ya fifty that he lifted those quotes from one of the locals. Hence it should have read, as reported by … of the …(how do you italicize …?)

    • MarkE says:

      Thank you for your post genius. You just legitimized to everyone reading what a narcissistic BSPN lemming you are Maury. Which was useful, because I’ll bet very few reading RI, an informative, QUALITY blog, were able to stay awake if they clicked through to your “article”. Try to come up with an original thought genius. By the way, of the 20 or so comments on this page, how many actually discuss the content of your article? Hmmm… lightbulb? Yaaawwwnnn.

      People, Maury Brown makes his $$ when you click the ads on his blog. DON’T click the (hundreds of) ads on his site if you don’t want to fund him.

  10. John Romano says:

    At the risk of sounding like a columnist with nothing original to say (which is actually pretty true since I’m killing time in a hotel room in Raleigh waiting to go to dinner and watch the Yankees-Tigers), I’d like to add a couple of thoughts. Too many people are getting their panties in a wad over this idea of “Rays fans suck.” That’s not the point Stu, or others have been making. The point is this franchise has never proven it can generate enough revenues to be considered stable (at least by MLB standards). To compare their attendance to KC (as someone did) is to miss the point. Kansas City has been a last-place team for a decade. And it drew pretty well when it was a winning organization in the 1980s. The Rays drew horribly in the 2000s, and have not seen a significant bump since becoming a winner. That’s an issue. Certainly there are extenuating factors. Economy, lack of generational identification with the team, stadium location, etc. Even arguments about Tampa Bay’s support in relation to population are not terribly germane to the issue. All that basically says is Tampa Bay may not be large enough to support three pro franchises. Particuarly when other mid-range markets seem to have more support when their teams are winning. The bottom line is MLB (and Rays ownership for that matter) don’t care about explanations any longer. They want solutions. They want results.
    Maury Brown knows what he’s talking about. (And by the way, the quote Maury had from Stu was said in the clubhouse after the game. Typically, a writer does not have to attribute the quote’s origin if it was said in front of a group of people, and there were several of us there at the time. So Maury is within his boundaries to use the quote even if he wasn’t there.) He’s a sharp guy when it comes to this stuff. But I’m not sure I agree with all of his conclusions.
    I’ve had a lot of off the record conversations with a lot of different people, in and outside of baseball, regarding this topic. And while I was always of the opinion that there are no viable markets for the Rays to turn to, some smart people have told me that is not necessarily true. If you find a city that is willing to put together a consortium of corporations willing to buy X number of season tickets for X number of seasons along with X number of sponsorships, it could be profitable for a team such as the Rays to relocate. Even if they are sued. Even if they have to pay some territorial fees. (Which I don’t think would be a huge issue in Charlotte or Nashville or San Antonio, but I may be wrong.)
    The reason I write about this topic (And trust me, I would much rather write about on-field topics. I had a “dumb just enough” column ready to go for several days but never seemed to find the right time, and now it’s lost forever. AHHHH!) is because I think it is of critical importance. I think the chances of this team moving are real. Again, I could be wrong. I could actually look very foolish if attendance slowly grows and the Rays become a business success story in the coming years. But my gut tells me that’s not going to happen. And I think I would be grossly negligent if I did not point out those possibilities.
    It’s not about bashing the fans. (Okay, it may be for national media who are doing a drive-by story and don’t understand all the issues or nuances.) It’s about the fact that Sternberg is not happy with the support. And MLB owners are not happy about having to funnel millions of dollars down to Tampa Bay. And Selig is not happy about anything. This issue is bigger than whether your neighbor goes to enough games. This is an issue that political and business leaders in Tampa Bay need to recognize is important. Because that lease lessens in value every year, and eventually the punitive damages for breaking that lease are not going to be prohibitive to some owner.
    Now back to our regular programming.

    • Rg says:

      My main point is very simple; If Stu/Bud are unhappy with their situation here, leave. Now. Like BA said earlier to the Yankees, Shut up!

      • Rg says:

        I forgot to mention that I think it’s pretty cool that you took the time to post here John. Almost a whole column; for no pay.

    • Joe says:

      Unfortunately John, that is a big part of the point, if you want to admit it or not. That YOU, your colleagues at the Times or anyone locally simply wants to give Stu the carte blanche, EVEN IF HE IS RIGHT, is a big part of the problem. Your perspective is compromised. A big part of the issue here is John, and you are missing the point is that if someone says if the product sucks enough and the experience is bad enough, then people believe it.

      What has gone on here is grossly negligent. I can’t more disagree with your comment that Stu Sternberg is the biggest fan of baseball in Tampa Bay. That couldn’t be FURTHER from the truth. The only thing that keeps Stuart Sternberg in Tampa Bay is the lease that Bill Foster is BOUNDED by a OATH from God to DEFEND!!

      I have written you, John over the past couple of years as well as Gary, as why you simply don’t defend the market more. I know you have told me you are born and raised in St. Petersburg. Golly, I know the market isn’t perfect, there are issues politically, structrually that is BEYOND the fault of the fans?! Why does Stu Sternberg come across so smug and distant then, and you don’t acknowledge that?

      Honestly, I am disgusted how fans and citizens have been treated in this ordeal. I know you care, only to a point, but the next time someone trashes Stu Sternberg will be the first time. Taking and RIPPING Tampa Bay off of the road uniforms WHEN IT WAS PROMISED to RETURN. Something as SIMPLE as that John, I would accept as an olive branch!

      It’s all a money grab, and you John with your piece today, drew a line in the sand. If you don’t think “Rays fans suck” is a part of the story John, you got your ears turned away. I have read what you said, but then why doesn’t Stu go back to Bill Foster, get a last best Gateway proposal and then if it fails, then we go to Hillsborough?

      I am appalled at the DEPLORABLE and TREACHEROUS comments and the deceit that Stuart Sternberg has shown personally since the middle of the 2008 season. His words and his words alone have done more to hurt the turnstyle count than you John, or Maury even want to BEGIN to give credit for. The fact that Steve Berthiaume is allowed to SPIT in our faces and nationally and that Stu says NOTHING about it ADDS to a negative connotation and is PAINFUL!

      I am Rays fan, more than that I love Tampa Bay, but I despise Stuart Sternberg. It’s too bad that you can’t see through the act of what he is doing, putting process in front of the bottom line, and winning a World Series. What you have written, John, I am sorry, but I can’t disagree with you more.

    • S says:

      could you please answer a couple of questions?

      1. in 5 years, do you think the florida marlins will average 30K a night in their new stadium? do you think that mlb will stop giving them their low market funds?

      2. if we get a new stadium, after 5 years do you think we will average 30K a night, which is what stu wants at the trop?

      3. i guess i don’t see where i missed the point. what’s the difference between the larger revenue teams cutting a check to a winning team or cutting a check to a losing team? if the “revenue sharing” goes away, which is what being suggested, then where does that leave san diego, kc, and the pirates? i realize that we have higher attendance because of our recent success, but that means we are a better run organization. why aren’t they pressuring the bigger city teams to field winners with their free money instead of pressuring us into filling the seats?

      4. stu and the rays raised some of the season ticket packages(40 game, weekend, upper deck, basically all their upper level season ticket holders) as much as 35% between 09 and 10 during the worst economy since the depression. does that really sound like an organization that is trying to put people in the seats? is that a logical solution to keeping the season ticket sales?

      basically, even if the rays or the marlins move into new stadiums, they cannot survive without funds from mlb which are as much as $35 million a year. the new stadiums in no way, shape or form are going to generate an additional $35 million a year.

      what do the jags, marlins, bucs, panthers, dolphins and rays have in common? they all struggle to put fans in the seats. they all are in florida, and they all are trying to convince a bunch of transplants to buy into a hometown team, which is never going to happen. there’s no study, figures, or statistics available that will ever give you realistic numbers on these fans that will never convert. florida isn’t like other locations because they simply don’t have these issues. there’s never going to be a guarantee of “if you build it, they will come” in this state. if’s a crapshoot for local govs to sink money into a stadium that may never fill up. history tells us that it won’t.

      • Joe says:

        Eloquently stated, what assurances do the fans have what kind of PAYROLL will the 25 man roster have or on the 40 man? What kind of effort will the Rays put year to year? Tell me that!

        This is where John and Maury miss the boat. Raise the prices, give no assurances, yep, that’s the ticket. Marlins still under same ownership and they FLEECED Dade County for that new ballpark.

        This whole thing is $1 billion when all is said and done, legally, etc. Fans have been duped by Bud Selig, and just restating his view even if right really is wrong. The problem in part is the economic model of the game, not putting the onus if “the fans show up, we can spend more money”. PAYROLL IS NOT PROPORTIONATE TO ATTENDANCE.

        The error, which is completely Stu’s fault is the RSN (regional sports network) contract signed through 2016. The fans didn’t sign that contract, YOU DID STU. And John and Maury, you know that too. Why is there a national conspiracy to blame Tampa Bay and get mad at Tampa Bay fans considering the demographics of the market?!

  11. Tom says:

    John, excellent comment.

    I have a question for people on this site, did anyone have difficulty purchasing tickets for Tuesday’s game through the Rays website? I was on vacation Thursday-Monday and tried to purchase tickets through the web site Friday around 7 PM but the Rays website said the ticket sale had been completed, I assumed this meant the game was sold out. I returned to town Monday (had Tuesday off from work) and tried again to go to the Rays website but I still could not get tickets as the website did not appear to be working. I ended up buying tickets on stubhub. I was wondering if anyone else had this problem.

  12. Joe says:

    Let me say this, what are civic leaders supposed to do? What are any assurances MLB will act in good faith? If everything was in a vacuum, how are Bill Foster and Bob Buckhorn supposed to act in faith? Since the waterfront proposal went up in flames, Stu Sternberg has been nothing but sour about the political process AND questioning the fanbase, whether you want to admit that or not.

    The team’s marketing and emphasis on bringing butts in the seats has been deemphasized. That is a fact. The team has motivation NOT to fill Tropicana Field as it adds to their self-fulfilling prophecy to break the lease and get a new stadium. So Stu has put himself in a spot to literally bite his own nose to spite his face. But know this, he and he alone has caused this through HIS actions. He is the Executive Producer of a movie script. If he doesn’t like the script, HE can change it. He is the one who puts Rays fans in a no win situation supporting the club. He is the one damaging the prestige of being a sports fan, not Bill Foster, not Pam Iorio or Dick Greco or anyone else. It is pure greed and a SHOT at the revenue sharing pie.

    Why should it be a chore to be a Tampa Bay fan? I don’t want my family or friends to be a part of a pay for play/quid pro quo scheme. I wanted and cried for baseball to come to St. Petersburg coming through middle school and high school and I read the crap that you wrote John, and yes, I say crap, because you are a LINE of DEFENSE for US. Why John, don’t you ask about the road uniforms or connecting and repairing damage with fans rather than having ESPN and Stu’s surrogates further extending a negative stereotype about our area? Does that benefit you, (even if it is correct). Stu has talked down the fans, area and team since 2008 and you have turned a blind eye on it. Stu, by grace of LUCK got a wildcard team this year. Name a year John, has Stu “gone for it” and tried to win it all (even 2008)?

    As I said, I am ashamed and disgusted. I am disgusted by your colleague Gary Shelton’s comments and what has been said on the team’s affilated radio station DEFENDING Stuart Sternberg. How am I supposed to support this man, who has shown NOTHING but a complete lack of love of this area since the waterfront proposal went south? I am perplexed!

  13. S says:

    the waterfront proposal, that’s a classic one. let’s fund a new stadium a few blocks away from the old one. when every arguement that you hear about the trop is “it’s in a horrible location”, “it’s too far away from the fans”, “bridges, and drive time”, isn’t it funny how that was the first choice, and if they could have figured out the parking that would have been the new stadium.

    • Joe says:

      The proposal shows the hypocritical nature of the ownership group. It would have been good then, but not now? Of course, there are a myriad of reasons why it didn’t fly, but again, it comes down to greed. There was going to be no parking there and a bunch of shuttles if that was built!

  14. baseball buddy says:

    Nope! That would never have been the new stadium. To build a stadium on that particular land would have triggered a referendum and the citizens would never have allowed the Rays to build on the waterfront. The Rays own published report indicated the parking would work (albeit a ridiculous assumption) – so why did they pull the plug on the waterfront site?…because there was a giant ground swell of opposition by the citizens and the Rays realized they could not get the referendum passed. Stu has been in a funk ever since his waterfront proposal failed to pass muster. He has talked down the city, the citizens, the stadium, the mayor and the fans. Sad, really, because we love our Rays – we just dislike the owner.

    • Joe says:

      My gist is what you said at the end. Stu hasn’t been the same since that proposal went south. And the fault is no one but his, and his alone. Not John Romano blaming the fans or whatever “is” is. I understand the facts, the problem if you really get down to it is an ego stroke. Everyone else has the bells, whistles and trinkets and I don’t. I got a hardcore contract, so let me badmouth my landlord and use the media to sway public opinion to my side of the story.

      I am big time Rays fan, no matter how far away I am either, but I am divorced of the owner and I believe Tampa Bay is a better place without Stu Sternberg’s attitude, misguided quotes and everything of the kind he does. It’s not the same. It’s too bad that the media shills for him, or the common folks, even the Dick Vitales would see Stu Sternberg as the villain he actually is. Why not an olive branch on Tampa Bay on the road uniforms? Isn’t that at the least symbolic?!

    • S says:

      i may have been wrong on the parking being the reason but you missed my point entirely.

      the waterfront was the RAYS first choice. it is only a few blocks from the current location. the current location is supposedly “to far to drive”, “bridges”, “old people”, “not near corporations”, etc. that’s the excuses that we’ve heard over and over, yet that was the FIRST choice to build the new stadium. so basically by trying to build it here first, all those excuses must not really be a factor.

      • Cork Gaines says:

        the waterfront location is a problem in the location argument. but let me play devil’s advocate for a second…

        There are a lot of things a team would like in a stadium. location is one. but another hope is that a stadium is more than just a baseball field. with the waterfront proposal, the Rays were looking to build a landmark, a place that people would want to travel to, because it was something special. And a big part of the iconic nature of the new park was the skyline view, the possibility of being close to nightlife and being on the waterfront.

        The proposal was also much cheaper than the numbers I’m hearing for a stadium in Tampa. Now, who knows how accurate the proposal numbers were. But they seemed pretty economical compared to what other teams were paying. And if the Rays and St. Pete were spending several hundred million dollars less on the actual stadium, maybe there was more of an opportunity to invest in local infrastructure.

        Anyway, my guess is that those things outweighed the location issue. But now the thinking may be that the Rays can’t get those things elsewhere in Pinellas, so it no longer outweighs the location issue.

        I’m not saying that is the excuse or even a good one. But i think that is what the thought process is.

        • S says:

          i hear ya but according to EVERY arguement that you hear, it’s location, location, location. any stadium is going to be “iconic” compared to the trop. people are never going to make vacation or travel plans to see the tampa bay rays play baseball, don’t kid yourself.

          it was going to help in overall cost due to the land already being owned, and it not being a retractable roof. but after the new wore off, how many people were going to make that infamous “drive”, and sit in 88 degree weather on a tuesday night to see the royals play? once again, we would be drawing 15K in a $750,000,000 stadium, and our hand would be stuck out looking for help from MLB. the waterfront location and the Rays pushing for it completely goes against EVERY idea that they are pushing for at this point, and shows how much BS is coming out of them and MLB.

          • Cork Gaines says:

            the really interesting question it: what would the Rays say if Bill Foster said, “Ok, you can have your waterfront stadium.” If you think they say “no thanks” (and that is certainly possible) then there is a problem.

  15. RobW says:

    The Rays problem is simple. They have a branding issue. I don’t care why and neither do the fans who don’t go to games. It doesn’t matter why. It only is.

    For most organizations the brand is the most valuable asset it has, and they know that, and they protect it. Everything else can be replaced.

    Maddon saying the Trop is improper for baseball is like a top-line exec at McDonalds saying their restaurant is improper for dining. You don’t bash those things that have associative properties to your brand.

    When you think of Volvo, you think safety. Apple = innovation. FedEx? Overnight.

    Rays? Hmm, not really sure. Terrible fan base? Boring offense? Crappy stadium? Dirty concessions? Wrong location? Unfortunately, these are the things people in the community think of when they think of the Rays. Again, I don’t care why they think it. They just do.

    Don’t blame the media, national or local. Don’t blame the fans. Don’t blame the stadium. Don’t blame the economy or the drive across the bridge. The Rays haven’t found a way to positively communicate their identity, and as a result, no one is really all that interested. Don’t believe me? The numbers don’t lie.

    But you say, “Yeah, but the economy – that’s real. That’s not an excuse.” I say bullocks. You might be one of the responsible ones, but people generally don’t spend their money wisely. If they did, we wouldn’t be in the mess of an economy that we are in. People wouldn’t own homes with interest only mortgages or cars they can’t afford to drive. The economy is not the reason. People will spend their last dime on a lottery ticket, a night drinking, a lovely lady if they stupidly think they will be millionaires the next morning, or that the buzz will make their problems go away, or that their date is going to put out.

    Romano said Sternberg is looking for answers. I always find it amazing when people ignore the evidence in front of them. He wants a return on his investment. I get it. He put a winning team on the field. He lets fans bring their own food. They have the best giveaways and offer the most value in sports. I understand. But I also understand he is wrong. The People have spoken, but he isn’t listening.

    People will pay for perceived value and the community doesn’t perceive the Rays as valuable. Please don’t mistake me. I am not talking about the people on this blog. I am not talking about me (or most of the 18,000 per night). All of us love baseball, and we would love whatever team was playing in our hometown (that’s why we are here commiserating). I am talking about the rest of the area. They love the beach. They love the mall. They love the movies. They don’t love the Rays (at least not as much as those other things).

    The Rays need to woo them. They are the one’s holding the the Rays’ fate in their hands. You are not going to woo them with your current brand.

    And Stu, that’s your fault. The problem is simple. The answer is simple. The how is difficult, but you have to make people love you. Make them think you are the bee’s knees – the cat’s meow. I know you think you have invested a lot of money, time and energy. I know you think you have made all the right moves. On the surface it would seem so. But the numbers don’t lie. People don’t care.

  16. John Romano says:

    I will try to answer most of S’s questions, and some of Joe’s. If i tried to answer everything, I would be up all night because I can’t say anything in a dozen words or less.
    S brings up an excellent point. One that Topkin and I were discussing the other night. And, no, I do not think the Marlins will draw 30K. And I think that fact is going to hurt Tampa Bay. I also do not believe Tampa Bay will ever routinely draw 30K. And I don’t think the Rays believe that either. Stu has stated he was looking for “average” attendance, but I think he would be thrilled with a team that drew 30K on good seasons, and 25K in bad seasons. What the Rays are looking for is a stadium that will draw more corporate support. (I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but the typical MLB team sells about two-thirds of its season tickets to corporations. The Rays sell about one-third to corporations. That means the average fan has to pick up about 33 percent extra in ticket sales, which is another reason that this “Rays fans suck” business is inaccurate and unnecessary. Joe said something about me blaming fans. I’ve never blamed fans. I’ve said the MARKET has underperformed. And I believe that is true.)
    As for the question of other owners being more angry about sending revenue sharing money to “winning” teams as opposed to “losing” teams, I don’t think they like sending money to anyone. There are several reasons why Tampa Bay is singled out. No. 1, markets like KC, SD and Pittsburgh have more history and have at least shown some evidence of supporting teams when they’re winning. TB has never shown great support. (The attendance figures of 1998 were wildly exagerrated and everyone knows it.) That makes TB more suspect. San Diego and Pittsburgh have also gotten new stadiums recently, so they are not candidates for relocation. Tampa BAy is operating with a suspect stadium that an owner is complaining about. Whether you agree with the complaints or not, that makes Tampa Bay a more likely target for relocation, and that makes it news. Then there is simple anecdotal evidence. The lowest postseason crowd in 30 years, 29th in attendance while making the playoffs, a crowd of 18K for a Yankees game in the final week of the season while in the midst of one of the greatest September comebacks in history. Those things start adding up and the rest of MLB just assumes that Tampa Bay is a weak market.
    As for the question of ticket prices? Look, I think all MLB ticket prices are out of whack. I think all pro sports prices are out of whack. But the bottom line is an ESPN study showed the Rays had the most affordable ticket prices of any major sports team in the country. Even if you dispute the accounting methods of that study, I think you would have to agree that Rays prices are certainly more competitive than most MLB teams. They’ve done free parking, they’ve done post-game concerts, they put $10-million into sprucing up the stadium when they took over six years ago. It’s fine if you think the tickets are too expensive for your budget. Hell, they’re too expensive for my budget most of the time. But the fact is they are better than most MLB teams.
    Finally, there seems to be some assumption that I’m pimping for a new publicly financed stadium. Go back and read every column I have every written. I have never said Tampa Bay should build a free stadium. My point, all along, has been that St. Pete needs to recognize there’s a problem. Shouting various excuses for low attendance is not a strategy, and it does not help with a solution.
    This city has several options:
    A) It can figure out a way to entice more corporations to buy more tickets. B) It can build a new stadium (along with ownership money) in a location that will better accomplish the first option. C) It can use the lease to leverage a better deal for the city, and allow the Rays to explore downtown Tampa. Or, as the case may be, Charlotte, Nashville, Jersey, etc. D) It can bury its head in the sand as the lease continues to wind down, and the Rays become more committed to leaving the market.
    I’m not sure which of the first three options is best for the city, but I’m pretty certain that the last option is not very bright. And that seems to be what the city is committed to doing.
    The bottom line is it doesn’t matter whether you think the Rays need a new stadium. The owner of the team believes that, and so arguing is moot. He either gets the stadium, or he sells the team and the next owner starts the process all over again.
    The ultimate decision is whether St. Pete or Tampa feels a new stadium is worth the investment. If so, then Tampa Bay will remain a big league market. If not, then Tampa Bay will make do with the Bucs and Lightning. And then the question becomes whether to cut a deal with the Rays, or try to sue down the road. That’s why I have said this story will not end happily for St. Pete if it continues with its current posture.
    Other NFL markets (Houston, Cleveland, Baltimore) have regretted losing teams and spent dearly to get them back. There are NBA and NHL markets with similar stories. It hasn’t happened as much in baseball in the past 40 years, but that’s because cities have caved and built stadiums.
    I’m not King Solomon. I don’t know what’s the best answer. I just think people should be more aware of the issues instead of crying because they feel insulted by an ESPN anchor.

    • Joe says:

      I am KEENLY aware of the issues, perhaps even more than the average person, which is why I do not know why you say less about how the fans have been treated in this ordeal. I don’t discredit or doubt the numbers that you have, that is not the point I am making.

      My regret is that you don’t see and we disagree is the amount of effort and what Stu Sternberg has to bring to the table. He has in effect foldedhis cards and gone virtually home, saying that its my way or the highway. You can say the same about Bill Foster, but what assurances do fans have of payroll levels?

      I never said you were pimping or clamoring for a publicly financed stadium, but Sternberg has been highly suggestive of the amount of “help” he needs. Am I allowed to connect the dots?

      There are problems with corporate sponsorship, BRANDING, as I said, community connection and ticket prices, and as I said, Sternberg has EVERY MOTIVATION NOT to do well because if he can illustrate or show his point, then he has a better (illusionary) case to go to a judge and get the terms of breaking a lease more favorable to him.

      And this is the thing John. I am an educated young man. I care about my community. And maybe you care as much as my community is perceived, I do not know. But what I do know is that you and I have a failure to connect with what emotions are being stoked and WHO is doing the stoking. We have an agreement to disagree about emotions being stoked by Stu Sternberg. If you can’t see that, that is a part of the story. By downplaying that, people like me and others think you are trying to shut that part of the story up. People are very upset at Stu Sternberg for not defending the market against attacks, and there is circumstantial evidence he is BEHIND it. I can’t be more disappointed or disgusted in regards to this. Maybe you can’t see it John, but there is a wall of contempt against the Rays’ owner, all built on his own words of taking down payroll in the name of ATTENDANCE at games. So forgive me if you think I am in a wad or not aware of the issues.

      I understand the issues, but I guess how we get to the end result doesn’t matter, it’s just how we get there, right? My point is the awful tact he has shown and the lack of regard he has taken to get there. Instead of being a builder in the process, I contend since 2008, Stu Sternberg has changed course and gone into a mode I cannot support as an owner of a team.

    • CC says:

      John as far as ticket prices you quoting BSPN. That is a problem. If you go from site to site , which I have done and actually compare prices. You will see we are not the lowest. BSPN is a joke. Now has anyone compared ticket prices to income of this area? There is only so much entertainment dollar to go around. Stu needs to do a better job of marketing. To start the season Stu cut payroll nearly in half. Eliminated half of the teams players that fans associated with. Then we start the year 0-6. This does not make the average fan want to go out and buy tickets. Hardcore fans will always go. I personally don’t think the market this team worth a damn and that is Stu’s fault.

    • S says:

      thank you for the response. the problem that i see that without some sort of revenue sharing then teams like KC, pitt, and SD will not survive. so MLB cannot cut the funds off, or it will be a 16 team sport. those low attendance teams would lose their asses every year and would fold up quickly. so for MLB to say that they don’t want to pay is complete BS.

      so you clearly state that you think that the rays and marlins won’t draw anywhere near average in 5 years, so therefore mlb has keep writing them checks to survive? yes? the new stadium lease will surely be more than the trop. if the rays gets a new stadium, then payroll better increase to insure a quality product yearly on the field. so those two factors alone will eat up any “extra” profit that is generated in ticket or suite sales. so once again our hand be stuck out looking for a check from MLB? right? so what’s the difference?

      and i’ve brought a point to cork for years that is very similiar to joe’s. it’s hard for me to believe that stu is honestly doing everything in his powers to fill the seats. i’m no marketing guru, but in a down economy, you don’t raise prices to attract more customers. like i said before and you have the resources to verify these numbers, some of the 40 game season ticket prices went up 35% between 09 and 10. also, what were the prices for upper level playoff tickets (lower rows) in 2008 vs 2011 for the ALDS? please i challenge you to find those prices and print them. how is jacking up the prices supposed to put fans in the seats? it’s not. the rays basically reclassified most of the upper level seats as upper level box, increased the prices, and lowered the location of the tarps and now only have a fraction of upper level seat available compared to the past. once again i challenge you or anyone from the rays front office to print those prices and tell me how that draws more attendance.

    • J says:

      Hey, John: if only you were right.

      Let the Rays leave. Seriously, I’m done getting verbally abused by the team, the owner, and the manager.

  17. Joe says:

    The fans, John, is the market. The market is the fans.. The corporations are the fans, so again, I don’t see how you are baking the provebial cake an eating. Anyone who comes through that rotunda in center field is part of the market and a fan, whether he works in downtown Tampa, works at Coca Cola, or is an independent businessman who cuts 25 lawns a day for a living. The problem is, the passion level is there, but is being chopped off and not heard in this gripe.

    Again, how do I not know Stu Sternberg thinks Rays fans do “suck”? This has gone on since 2008 and all the Rays care about is don’t call us the Devil Rays. Hey, what about a nickel for every time someone calls us the “Tampa” Rays? He has never stopped the stereotype from germinating? And payroll has gone down every year since he talked about it, and talking the fanbase down is not going to endear people to supporting him.

  18. Joe says:

    I just wish someone here would defend fans for once and not take this stuff lying down. Again, I am aware of the corporate base and issues like that, but I contend the flip side is valid. The market for the team IS the entire fan base no matter what walk of life they come from.

    • Kevin says:

      It’s not about defending the fans. The fans that go to the games aren’t what Stu is talking about. It’s the market. If I open a restaurant that three people love and eat at every night and everyone stays away from and I say “You know, this isn’t working, not enough people are coming here” I’m not saying the three people that come there should be ordering twice as much, I’m saying I’m doing as much business in the market as I thought (or as I believe I need to be financially viable).

      • Joe says:

        He is not making that distinction though, Kevin. And with his own words, the number has been going down. I would agree with you if the numbers weren’t true. He himself has had an adverse affect on those numbers.

      • CC says:

        Kevin, if you take the things that people like off the menu. Do you expect them to continue to go?

  19. Joe says:

    One last thing, how many more times has Stu been to CitiField watching his Mets over the Rays? Has he yet to disavow the Mets? It adds to the carpetbagger syndrome, whether it be true or not.

  20. Dave L says:

    interesting thread. I would just like to add that my main beef with the local media is that they don’t often enough point out the main errors in the assumptions by the owner and his allies in the national media.

    1) Rays are losing money

    Rays are making millions every year, just not as much as the owner would like and not as much as his peers i.e. the other billionaire owners. Hell the Rays are obviously just one of his many interests, like the Glazers, as he spends more time in New York stadiums than his own

    Can anyone point me to an unbiased analysis on just how much the owner earns every year and on what total investment?

    2) The Trop is a overall bad baseball experience.

    I am a bandwagoner who hopped on in 1998. I was told by all the local media for years that the place was a dump so I hadnt gone since the early days. As a 3 year sunday season ticket holder I can tell u its a fabulous place to watch Sunday afternoon baseball in the Summer in Florida.

    These points cannot be made enough anytime this subject is brought up.

  21. J says:

    Maury is a freaking tool–look at his article today. He writes:

    “the Rays got swept by the Rangers”

    Uh, yeah. Does he even know what a sweep is?

    • MarkE says:

      He’s loving and profiting off of our disgust of his lack of preparation and knowledge. We’re all clicking over to his rubbish and he’s making money. The only ones who defend him are the journalists (see above) whom he brown-nosed in his “article”.

  22. Rumpy says:

    Im a little worried. Don hasn’t showed up in this discussion yet. :)

  23. S says:

    so what happens if we build a new $1 billion stadium and in 5 years we’re right back to a 20K average? which is a very realistic outlook if the economy doesn’t rebound.

    1. does MLB keep writing checks to the rays? and basically keep there mouths shut because the area govts responded when asked.

    2. do they stop the stop the check writing process and stu sells the team?

    3. do they contract tampa bay and oakland, like they tried to do with minn and montreal? they’re currently telling st pete that this is gonna happen and they could care less about their lease, so what prevents them from doing the same with a new lease in a new stadium? can you imagine building the stadium and them leaving? that would be one bad ass monster truck venue!!

    does anyone really believe that a new stadium is going to pack in 30K a night after a few years? do you really think that the rays will ever be able to stand on their own without receiving financial support from MLB? does MLB believe this? no, the check will continue if we get a new stadium!

    there’s currently somewhere around a half dozen teams that get giant checks yearly? and unless some of the flagship teams like KC and pittsburgh somehow right the ships and the fans start believing then they’re never going to cut the purse strings. is that going to happen soon and often? doubtful.

    so once again, why just call out the rays when you have the same half dozen teams with their hands out year after year? oh yeah, we keep the red sox or the yankees out of the playoffs. if you don’t think that’s an issue, then you have your head in the sand. mlb isn’t going to stop writing us checks if we get a new stadium, they’ll just move us to a different division to stop that(boston and new york) from happening. if we don’t get a new stadium, they’ll pull the plug. boston and new york are complaining about us because we are competitive on a small budget. kc and pittsburg haven’t drawn flies for a decade, yet not a peep.

  24. Joe says:

    Honestly, in the end, I have became very, very jaded over the Rays’ management strategy over the past 5 years. If you compare ANY owner to Vince Naimoli, they would appear as a Godsend. And I believe that Stu Sternberg gets a lot of brownie points in the media because he is NOT Vince Naimoli. Having said that, is he one of the brightest and best owners in sports, no, I do not, because the best owners besides being PROCESS-driven, also are able to tweek their strategies and are RESULTS-driven in the end. Meaning, if I am producing great minor league prospects and I got guys having career years on a rebound, do I not add any reinforcements to ENSURE that my season is as SPECIAL as I can be? I fear that Stuart Sternberg is nothing short of a braggadocious WHINER and COMPLAINER about what he doesn’t have and is unwilling to go the extra mile to secure a parade of the ages down the streets of Central Avenue. One, just one world championship can be sold and marketed in away that the Rays marketing department couldn’t begin to dream of.

    And that leads me again to my role of the media. I am sorry, but I have had it to here on my head with WDAE and the St. Petersburg Times and columnists not bringing all angles of the story to bear. Telling you or I one side and deemphasizing or completely ignoring “Rays fans suck” is a huge issue. As one poster said above, when you think of the Rays, what do you think? This is a MAJOR ERROR and FALLACY of Stuart Sternberg. He and he alone has the ability to step out in front, change the script and use Rick Vaughn in an educational manner, not in a matter that suits him the best. Stuart Sternberg, even in the 2008 season has consciously placed fans in a no-win situation with his own goodwill and telling and reminding people of what good he has done. However in doing that, he is subtly backhanding the very fanbase/market he is trying to talk to, because he needs to do more. As I said, why does it feel to be a burden to be a fan of the Rays, instead of an honor and a pleasure? People at the Times do not understand the differece that the fanbase is the market. And as far as a certain radio host in this town, if the corporate support is supposed to be 70% and walkup base is 30%, well again, Stu Sternberg is the Executive Producer, he can change that number, the pricing base and flip that script to where he gets his numbers. Sternberg’s true profit will be realized when he sells the club. This is why I feel ashamed, dishonored and disrespected by Marc Topkin, Gary Shelton and John Romano, who do have a duty, whether they realize it or not, if they wish to editorialize their comments then they have to know people like me are going to call them out on it. But if you want to be an owner’s personal booster (or in their words “messenger”), then you to me cross the ethical lines. I have written a lot of people and spent countless hours and time behind the scenes wondering why our local media has behaved like this in regards to the past couple of years and it goes back to access to the owner. But again, just because Sternberg is flipping his gums at you, does it make what he is saying true and right? Our media has let us down, they have let me down, and I am ashamed of it, it is a disgrace beyond words.

    Finally, the end result. You got jaded fans and a stadium that is destined to be built on taxpayer money and land rights and legal fees to be paid to St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. This is where the polarization of fans and citizens is most evident. Know this, St. Petersburg and Pinellas County do deserve some sort of relief if the Rays wish to break their use agreement at any time. You have to come up with a site, you got to come up with utilities, you got to come up with steel, glass and metal, and everything else. You got other legal challenges I am sure to come up. Anyone care not to venture this isn’t $1 billion dollars when all is done and said? What promises do we have on payroll level and commitment by the team owner who FALSELY and INACCRUATELY ties payroll to attendance? What about the RSN (regional sports network) contract signed by Stuart Sternberg himself in the 2008 season that limits his own revenue streams from local television until the start of the 2017 season?!

    Stu, I want to thank you for NOT being Vince Naimoli, but it’s time you got out of here, and say thank you to the Bay area. You and your attitude of whining and inflexibility with the lack of understanding of the political process and causing division within the fan base has hurt yourself immensely. Your own personal failure to assimilate to the people and culture of Tampa Bay, most noteworthy, and staying in New York, has causes a great distance between your idea of reality and what the truth acutually is. You have only showed me that this is about greed and personal satisfaction for yourself and your investment team that has their shares in the Rays. You could extend an olive branch, as promised in the road uniforms and putting Tampa Bay back on them, but for some reason, you have showed ulterior motives. You sir, are the same man who wanted this team to be the Florida Nine, and not the Tampa Bay Rays. You may think you know what your fans like, but as evidenced, your are not listening. The media sure as heck isn’t listening either, just spewing your story, when you have the Steve Berthiuames as your own personal surrogates Stu. Stu, thanks for bringing a winning culture here, but now its time someone comes in and bridges the divide and brings the community together and protects us from the vultures and sharks that is the Commissioner’s Office in Park Avenue in New York and in Milwaukee and without THREATS, we can get a long term solution done that is also palatable to the WALLETS of GREAT fans.

    • MarkE says:

      Anyone who wants to use the lame argument about “even the TV ratings being down” to explain why TB is not a market for baseball, look no further than what Joe has written here. The TV ratings (in addition to game attendance) are down THIS SEASON because Stu Sternberg’s unrelenting, divisive and aggressive comments aimed at HIS CONSUMERS, the people of Tampa Bay, have made his PRODUCT much less appealing.

      The people of Tampa Bay aren’t just consumers, or potential consumers of Sternberg’s product, we are INVESTORS in bay area baseball. We stepped out in faith and built an expensive facility, which we’ll be on the financial hook for, for another decade and a half if baseball fails here.

      Stu, you are, in a way, a steward of OUR investment. Shut your pie hole and start doing your JOB. Use your media surrogates to reach across the aisle that you’ve created and mend the relationship with your consumers now, or your doomsday may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. A doomsday that will hurt the Rays fans, people of Tampa Bay, and investors in that stadium much more than you.

  25. Rob says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Maury Brown’s comments and have become very frustrated with the Tampa Bay media trying to justify the poor attendance. Ultimately the area will lose the team if the attendance does not improve, and rightfully so. Wake up Rays fans! If you are really a fan, go to some games. I am a “transplant” from Detroit and have already been to 6 games this year. Not because I am a die hard Rays fan, but to 1) See the Tigers when in town and 2) To support the local team because I love baseball. If you don’t want the team to stay, then just keep making excuses. If you care about your Rays then just go to a few games.

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