Stuart Sternberg and four other members of the Rays front office are meeting today with Pinellas County Commissioners, one week after meeting with Hillsborough County Commissioners. You can follow along with notes from the meeting at the Twitter account of Shadow of the Stadium. But we already have one damning nugget from Sternberg…

Sternberg: Only 300 season-ticket holders in the city of St. Petersburg.

It was later clarified that the 300 accounts account for “just shy of 1,000 tickets.”

That is still a disturbingly low number. Two years ago, we speculated that the Rays sold approximately 7,500 season tickets and that 2,500 of those were corporate season tickets. Now I am beginning to think those numbers were overly optimistic.

If the Rays are selling 5,000 non-corporate season tickets, 4,000 would have to come from outside the city of St. Pete and that seems like a stretch. But even if the number is much lower, it still tells us that the Rays are receiving more support from other areas and that the Rays need to be in Tampa.

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40 Comments

  1. LaneMeyer says:

    Is this surprising given the daily gloom and doom about the Rays coming from Stu as well as the national media in addition to having their own mayor continue to dig in his heels and make all city dealings with the Rays contentious? Much like the last owner scared off fans with his general disdain for the paying customers and the media, the current regime has scared away fans with veiled threats and their inability to attract corporate partners to purchase tickets.

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    • Michael says:

      LOL more excuses! St Pete people have an excuse for everything! It's always someone else's fault. How about facing reality: St. Petersburg either can't or won't support a major league team.

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      • Mike says:

        Agreed. St. Pete just needs to face the facts just like Tampa has that they can't support a professional football team

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        • Ricky C says:

          Comparing the Rays and the Bucs is like comparing apples and oranges. As a season ticket holder of both I can say that from experience. But since we're on the subject, shall we mention the Bolts and their attendance? As a season ticket holder of the Bolts also the difference in experience between the Bucs and Bolts is night and day. Tampa supports teams that provide a good product and treats the fans the way we should be treated. The Bucs failed to do that for a long time and they are feeling the effects now. The Rays put a great product on the field but they do so from a location that prohibits fans from Tampa to go except on weekends, which is why weekend attendance figures jump like they do but weekday figures are low.

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          • Mike says:

            I agree Ricky. The experience of a Lightning game is much better than the Bucs and or Rays. But they drew just as well if not better when the played at the dome in St. Pete as they do at Channelside.

            And you are right again it is comparing apples and oranges. The Bucs play 8 home games all on Sundays while the Rays play 81 home games sometime 9-10 consecutive days in a row. It is much easier to be a Bucs season ticket holder than a Rays season ticket holder.

            Also I would argue that the experience at the trop isn't good. The product on the field is good, but that's about it.

            Stop making excuses for one of the few cities in the NFL that can't sell out 8 games a year

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          • Michael says:

            So let me get this straight, you're going to slam the residents of St. Pete when the Rays have pretty much said, "we hate our home, it's a dump and we want to leave town" (whether that's Tampa or out of state)?? Season ticket holders are investors of sorts. Why would they invest in a team that says "we don't like our home and we don't want to be here" and when, in Stu's words, MLB "will vaporize" the team? I was one of the St. Pete residents who used to be a season ticket holder and who did not renew specifically because of Stu's asinine comments about the team being vaporized. That is NOT the way to go about maintaining your season ticket holders. He has done so much good - but it's amazing how the Rays have screwed this whole thing up. Don't get me wrong - Foster is an ass who should be recalled for his intransigence alone, but the Rays have also made a lot of missteps. But DON'T blame the taxpayers of St. Pete who, regardless of what happens, are on the losing end of this situation - and KNOW IT!

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    • Ricky C says:

      What "veiled threats" are you referring to? All that Stu has said is that the Trop is not viable until 2027 (which is true) and that he would like St Pete to amend the lease so that he can include Hillsborough in any future stadium talks (which was systematically rebuffed by Foster). Beyond that Stu has been professional and polite in the face of Foster and his head in the sand act.

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      • LaneMeyer says:

        You don't consider saying that MLB no longer believes in our market as a veiled threat? I do.

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      • Bill says:

        If Foster has his head in the sand, my question would be, why does he have so much sand up his a$$.

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  2. James Doyle says:

    Wow, this pathetic...! Hillsborough or nothing I guess.

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  3. Dave L says:

    I would guess that most non corporate and even many corporate season ticket holders are Partial season package holders like the Friday , Saturday and Sunday or full weekend packages. How are these factored in? If they are only counting Full Season Packages to make it look bad that would be disingenuous at best. Not many individuals can buy a 80+ game package.

    I'm not accusing I'm just asking because I dont know.

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    • Ricky C says:

      From everything I have read so far including the tweets from shadow of stadium they did not go into specifics beyond saying 300 season tickets from St Pete. You are absolutely correct that not everyone can purchase full season 81 game packages, however I find it hard to argue against the fact IF the stadium were in Tampa they would have alot more than 300 full season ticket packages from Tampa.

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  4. Mike says:

    You are missing the key wording. "Season Ticket Holders".
    They might have 300 season ticket holders but I would have to guess that all at least have 2 tickets and some have 4 or more.
    I would put St. Pete's number at close to 1000 tickets

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    • Mike says:

      I don't want to say this number is inaccurate because there is no way to verify it. That is also why I'm not sure I trust it. The Rays know that no one can check into it.

      Lowballing the number clearly benefits the teams motives and stating accounts instead of tickets is a cheap trick to get the number to look smaller. I'll believe this number as soon as they release all of their season ticket information

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      • Gus says:

        Agree totally. Open the books. The leaking of selective information is pathetic.

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        • Dave L says:

          That was my original point. A guy who owns the 23 game Friday package is a 'season ticket holder" and gets a card that proclaims him as such, gets 10% discount on concessions. He is a season ticket holder. Is he being counted? Why does this have to be such a state secret?

          If a businessman is asking for taxpayer money to build him a place for he alone to earn money, then give us the facts not just the cryptic ones that support your narrative you are building.

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          • Bill says:

            Just one slight correction. Stu is not and would not be making money alone. The commerce generated and resulting taxes from a franchise and stadium that generate a local retail ecosystem would absolutely generate revenue for the city, and hence the tax payer. Unfortunately St. Pete doesn't want to make that investment, feeling like the risk of hundreds of millions is not worth the potential reward. They would rather stick to their bird in hand vis a vis the current lease, and they are in their rights to do so.

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          • Mike M says:

            I have been curious for a while as to why St. Pete never made a push to build up the area around the stadium in order to build up the local retail ecosystem? Why not make it a destination? The more of a destination the stadium is, the more likely attendance will be higher. The higher attendance is, the more businesses around the stadium will thrive. Has St Pete never believed in the team/stadium since 1998? While sometimes I may not believe the Rays are giving full Marketing push to the team in its current location, I also don't think St Pete has done everything possible to make the current location thrive.

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          • Dave L says:

            Unfortunately I believe the Rays ownership operates under the old mid 20 oughts Pro Sports meltdown economic model.

            "I own the rare precious Pro team and cities will line up to court me, i shall await your generous offers of devotion and your plans of a stately pleasure dome decree..."

            They arent coming in this conomy.

            Not from Pinellas, Tampa, Greater Hillsborough nor from Tidewater, Vegas, Indy, etc etc etc.

            If the owner wants a new stadium he will have to be the first mover of the ball like a Jerry Jones or the Microsoft boys in the Pacific Northwest.

            Think forward, propose a public/ ownership partnership. Then actually spell out what his contribution (read $$$) will be. Get Selig and MLB to pony up to pay off St Pete in compensation or abosrb the lawsuit costs.

            I think the owner, not being a part of the fabric of the community, simply cant fully gauge nor appreciate the economic woes of the area. And his advisors are not helping him to shape his message.

            The message from the Owner and the Hillsborough/Tampa cheerleaders is - do something.....OR ELSE

            So my question simply is.

            What is "OR ELSE"

            I am in Venice and regularly attend games wherever they may take place

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          • Bill says:

            No like button, so.. "Like".

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          • Mike says:

            I would be willing to bet he is talking about full season tickets, but that is what really matters so I don't think it is misleading. The Rays generally do ok attendance wise on the weekends, especially when a major draw is in town. I like the packages the Rays offer, but the weekend packages are not really season tickets (and don't include all of the benefits that come with being a full season ticket holder). The problem the Rays have is the Tuesday night games against the Royals. Having a bunch of sub 9000 attendance games kills the overall numbers, and the only way to fix that is with more full season ticket holders. Adding another 1000 weekend package tickets isn't going to help much.

            If the Rays are only selling 1000 season tickets to St. Pete residents (including businesses), that is a major problem. The majority of season ticket holders are and should be businesses, so if St. Pete wants to keep the team its local businesses really need to step up. I have very little doubt that both the Bucs and Bolts sell a far higher number of season tickets to Tampa residents (not really fair because fewer games, but still), and the Rays would sell a lot more too if they were in Tampa so people didn't have to leave work early every time they went to a weeknight game.

            Also, the Rays don't do the 10% discount cards anymore, at least they didn't last year. I wish they would bring it back. The burst cards suck.

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          • Ricky C says:

            Well said. The biggest issue facing the Trop is location proximity to population. This is a region and all areas within the region are connected, but there is still distance between areas of the region. The numbers that Sternberg presented is quite troubling simply b/c if anyone in the region can purchase season tickets it is St Pete residents simply due to stadium proximity. Like you said, weekend games attendance is not an issue which emphasizes the fact that time and distance is a factor whether St Pete residents or anyone else wants to admit or not

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I was assuming 2 tickets per holder (although my poorly edited math skills suggested otherwise). I double-checked and yes, the total tickets is just under 1,000 or a little more than 3 tickets per account.

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  5. Don says:

    about had enough posturing from this little weasel, If you want to leave Stuie leave....nobody is going to let you out of legal contracts without payments..so pay up and see if you can mortgage ($500-800 mil) a stadium in Tampa or anywhere else in the US and make the kind of money you are making now...."GO ahead Make my day"
    I don't think you are as smart as you think you are...but try it...

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  6. Amy says:

    If the "300 season ticket holders" does equal about 1,000 that is not a good number. I've tried to stay neutral on the whole stadium issue since I live four hours away as a fan but what are the sale reps doing every day? I've read that St. Petersburg doesn't have the strongest businesses but no way they've all said no with even the 50% of effort on their part. I find that number baffling and probably confusing all at the same time. I guess it would help if someone would have ask them to clarifiy that response.

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  7. Gus says:

    How many from Tampa?

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  8. Don says:

    Amy has a very good point, if I owned a sports franchise in St Petersburg, or any town in the US and I couldn't sell 300 season tickets, who is the failure?, you mean Some Doctors,Small business owner, laywers, Mcdonalds owner, Banks, Bars, Hotels, Motels, wealthy individuals & familys ect ect ect wouldn't buy a couple of season tickets for themselves, family or customers?? Sounds like a bad sports franchise owner to me....

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    • Jim says:

      Step up St Pete. Step up Pinellas county. Step up Hillsborough county. I am a Rays Fan. They have a fantastic product. I go to 10 games a year via a season ticket package. This team is one of the very best in all of baseball. It is embarrassing as a fan to sit there and see the pathetic crowds. I have two tickets and I always take a friend. However it is not that easy to find a person who wants to go to a game --- FOR FREE. I question the fan base in the entire area. If you want this product around, you have to support it. Those want to hold their breath until it moves to their backyard are not fans. Once they move they will be complaining about the traffic or the prices or whatever. Get off your butts and go to games. It is a fantastic product. It is a joy to watch them. Baseball is unique to all sports. You live baseball. It is played every day. Support your team while you have one. Let's move because out stadium too small. Come to a game. Bring a kid. You will enjoy it.

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  9. LaneMeyer says:

    So now we know the number is more like 1000 season tickets from St Pete. And is that only St Pete proper? What about the rest of Pinellas County? What about Tampa and/or Hillsborough County. The Rays are cherry-picking a very narrow statistic here and I'd like to see the real numbers. Getting your statisticis from an MLB owner is akin to getting the truth from Fox News.

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  10. Beazy says:

    "it is, what it is!"

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  11. Mike M says:

    The 300/1000 numbers we are seeing has to be FULL season tickets. I think the only way to really put that in context is to find out what the "% of total" that represents and find out how many season ticket holders come from other cities in the area. I think the number sounds low, but I think a "% of total" would really put that in context.

    There are about 14 people that sit near me in my section and we all have the Saturday package. I am the only one that lives in Pinellas County (2/14 tickets).

    I just wonder what the Rays would have to offer just to talk to Hillsborough. They already offered veto power. I just don't think they should have to pay off the whole lease before starting talks.

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  12. Nate says:

    That number isn't the important number. Tell us how many seasons tickets accounts come from pinellas county. There are roughly 917k people in pinellas. Of that 243k reside in st Pete. The actual city limits are not large. So this 300 seasons tickets accounts which makes up about 1000 seats isn't all that alarming if we estimated a five thousand seat non corporate base.

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  13. Nate says:

    What percentage of the Yankee seasons ticket base lives in the Bronx? Does it matter?

    Give us the pinellas number and then we can decide if it is a cause for concern

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I understand what you are saying, but I am not sure the Yankees are a fair comparison because they have the mass transit to get the fans to the games no matter where they are coming from. Heck, you can get on a train in Connecticut and be to Yankee stadium in an hour.

      And yes, the season ticket numbers go up if you count all of Pinellas. But the point is that the Rays are not where the fans are. And saying that Pinellas has more upport outside of St. Pete only supports that notion. Of course, maybe another are in Pinellas (Carillon?) gets closer to the fans. But the point that is being made here is that downtown St. Pete is not a good spot.

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      • nate says:

        First of all my Yankee comment was a joke.

        Second, your comment doesn't support the notion that the Rays aren't where the fans are. Tampa's population is 346k. If we can all agree that people on either side of the bay have an equal amount of interest in the sport, and that the only variable affecting ticket purchasing behavior is stadium location, then by placing a stadium in downtown Tampa you are gaining an extra 122 seasons ticket accounts or an additional 366 tickets sold. If the Trop were in Tampa and Stu announces "We have 422 seasons ticket accounts from Tampa residents (Tampa proper not greater Tampa), people would be equally shocked. But the Hillsborough apologists would rush to say, "Well what about the whole county, everyone with families lives in Brandon, blah blah." Does the fact that the City of Tampa makes up 27% of Hillsborough population mean any more or less than the fact that St Pete also makes up 27% of Pinellas County's population? I think it is total BS that Sternberg is throwing out a meaningless stat to get people riled up

        It's clear the Rays want out of St Pete. That is fine. But I'd like to give a big F You to Sternberg or anyone else who wants to paint the people of St Pete in a light that makes it seem they don't want or support the team accordingly.

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        • Gus says:

          100% correct (unlike Cork's blog post, which is still misleading). This is the post of the year as far as I'm concerned.

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        • Mike M says:

          It will be interesting to see the number of Season Ticket Holders from the City of Tampa. If the number is the same or higher, I imagine the number can only go up when the drive time is decreased by 20 - 30 minutes. The real question is whether it would increase "enough".

          I really don't care where they put it, as long as its in the Tampa Bay area. I will still go.

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  14. Don says:

    OR ELSE, is a LOSING deal, and they (Stuie & Co.) know it, yet they will use this "threat" to intimindate ....public officials, poliicians, fans anyone who doesn't know any better,....who figures they run into someone like Foster, who apparently doesn't accept threats....too well..

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  15. JJ says:

    The Rays win and their ticket prices are very, very reasonable. You can even bring in your own food into the Trop which means you watch a winning team for only the cost of a ducat. The travel/transportation issue is a lame excuse. I do not blame the organization one iota. St. Pete is definitely a poor market and maybe the entire bay area is not viable. As a lifetime Yankee fan I dropped the Yanks for the Rays 4 years ago. Ultimately I cannot see the taxpayers building a new stadium anywhere in Tampa Bay. The Glazer's and TB Sports Authority screwed Hills county residents 10+ years ago. So all the energy is most likely being wasted.

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