File this one under “Bad signs for the future of baseball in St. Pete.”

Buried in the very last line of Roger Mooney’s list of Rays tidbits this morning was this little doozy…

Tickets still remain for the April 6 season opener against the Orioles at Tropicana Field.

We know the Rays ticket sales have always been driven by a large percentage of walk-ups. But this is Opening Day. One of the two or three greatest days of the year.

Two weeks away and the Rays can’t even sell out opening day? Earlier we heard that season tickets have been poor.

Maybe the Rays should start advertising campaigns in San Antonio and Charlotte. Bet those folks wouldn’t mind getting an opening day look at their future baseball team.

This is starting to look like the beginning of the end for baseball in St. Pete. Let’s just hope something can happen in Tampa.




  1. Deadeye says:

    There are tickets available for the Phillies home opener too. Must be the end of baseball in Philadelphia too. While the end might be true your reasoning is flawed.

    • I don't recall anybody being worried about attendance in Philadelphia. On the other hand the Rays finished 2009 in the bottom-third coming off a pennant-winning season. The one hope was that attendance would continue to rise, even if it has been a slow rise.

      The lack of a sellout on opening day *along with* the "not good" season ticket sales suggests the Rays are going in the wrong direction.

      Tell me what is flawed about that?

    • Alex says:

      Just to be clear though, the home opener for the Phillies is indeed sold out.

    • BJ is my Homeboy says:

      The phillies home opener in the second week and i can imagine people dont necessarily get as excited when their team has already played 6 games.

  2. KillaTapes says:

    SERENITY NOW! Let's not panic just yet though, I think there's a good energy with this team. It's still early and a rise in attendance is still possible. If the team starts tanking however, than that's a whole 'nother cup of soup.

  3. Andrew says:

    To be fair, the headline does lead one to believe that not selling out the home opener as of March 24 equals the beginning of the end of baseball in St. Pete. I clicked the link from Twitter expecting more. 

    That said, the Rays could be doing more to get this going. They've televised very few spring training games, and there hasn't been a huge marketing push. The Bucs and Lightning get their billboards going and their ticket reps actively and aggressively pursue leads. I didn't renew my half-season ticket plan for the Rays this year for financial reasons and I never heard from my rep regarding retention or downgrading my package. 

    Also - have you looked at the ticket plans available?  Smallest one out there is 22 games and many teams offer smaller packages, even the Rays did in years past. Then they don't offer particularly great seat locations if you only go with a 22 game plan, which has prevented me from purchasing. Other teams (KC, LAD) offer buy one get one deals. In this economic climate, the team needs to make a much better push than they have done so far this year.

    • I know 1 game doesn't seem like a big deal. Heck, Mooney had it at the very bottom of his column. But make no mistake, this is huge.

      It is well-known that attendance needs to go up or this team could bolt. And to be struggling to sell out the opener which should be one of the few guaranteed sell outs is horrible. And it doesn't bode well for the rest of the season.

      Not to mention this is one of the 3 or 4 best teams in baseball this year. If they can't sell out this year's opener, when will they?

  4. Gus says:

    As to opening day itself -- in northern cities it coincides with the arrival of spring, the feelgood notion that winter is over. That baseball is back after 6 months.

    In Florida, the Rays will always struggle with the early season buzz because they play spring games all over the area -- that dilutes the buzz. No big deal.

    They should break 2.0M this season for the first time. That will be a tremendous accomplishment for a team with as horrible a history as the D-Rays had, in a state in a full-blown depression, in a stadium that gets nothing but bad press.

    Relax professor

    • Technically, they drew 2.5 million in '98.

      And I understand the buzz comment, but the Rays are in PortCharlotte now. How games have they played in Pinellas? 2 or 3? And really, should the amount of coverage that spring training receives nowadays dilute the buzz for all teams. So many more games on TV or radio. Blogs and Twitter coverage.

      For a baseball fan, opening day is special. And like I said, this should be one of the automatic sellouts each year.

      • Gus says:

        2 in Clearwater, 2 in Tampa, one in Dunedin, a couple in Bradenton. But that definitely takes some buzz away. When you live ina northern clime, opening day is a religious experience.

        I agree it should be a special day in Tampa Bay also. They actually typically sell out opening day, and then draw 11,000 the next day. I'd rather have them go 25,000 to 20,000.

        But "the end of baseball in St. Pete" is a little over the top. (I'd be more worried about the end of pro football in Tampa given the fact that the Glazers have managed to drive away so many Bucs fans, that they are the new Jags apparently).

      • Andy says:

        I live in St. Pete. I've seen them in clearwater, lakeland, and (at least for BP) Bradenton...three Sundays in a row. They've also played the Yankees at night in Tampa.

  5. Andrew says:

    No marketing push (signs, commercials, schedules in every downtown establishment), a confusing change in ticket price structure (people generally do not like a lack of consistant price, and 5 tiers takes the cake), a change in parking prices (no more 4 or more people free unless you get there mad early), a lack of incentive to buy early (crap locations for 22 game plans and no smaller packages or family specials yet), and poor customer retention process on their end. All the promotions they have don't matter if the casual fan doesn't know that they're happening or isn't actively pursued. They've sold out the opener the last three years and I suspect they will again this year, but that it hasn't sold out yet could've been remedied by actually trying to do so.

    • Andy says:

      Its not just that. The creation of their new "Upper Box" section means that 4,320 (10% of the stadium) of their cheapest priced tickets just went up on average by about 33%.

      It also explains why their retention rate was so poor. I think its fair to assume that most people who had season tickets in the upper deck had so in one of these preferred locations. So when it came time to renew, the choice was pay substantially more for the same seats, or pay slightly more and move back 13 rows.

      My season tickets are in a different location, and saw only a slight increase. But I think they made a really bad mistake, and priced out a lot of long-time season ticket holders of limited means.

  6. Andrew says:

    Another thing - right now, the beat seats in the upper level for the opener are in row Y (looking for 2). The best in the press level are well past the bags. None available in the outfield at all. But plenty in the lower bowl going for $115 each. See the issue?

  7. Don says:

    You talk about the media types crying WOLF a little early....
    I'll bet you anything Mr. Mooney has no idea that less than 5000 tickets are left to be sold for oppening Night and most ticket sales are the last two days before game day...but what does he care....he writes something stupid anyway...
    Book this: THE GAME WILL BE SOLD Mr. Mooney is a moron!

  8. Mike says:

    Opening Day always sell out (or comes close) either day of or the day before. The only exceptions I can think of are the first year and last year because we were hanging the banner. This is really no big deal.

    • But this is kinda my point (which I didn't make clear). I have no doubt it will sell out eventually. But the problem is that this IS just like every other season. And every other season is not good enough. This franchise needs more fans. More interest from the community. More demand for tickets. Unfortunately, opening day makes it look like the status quo. And season tickets sales might actually be down.

  9. John says:

    Listen, I love a good panic as much as the next guy. But this just doesn't get my juices going. So we haven't sold out two weeks before opening day. Big deal. At least, you haven't made the case very well for it being a big deal, since there are no comparisons to what an acceptable time frame looks like, how the rest of the league is doing with ticket sales, etc.

    • Don says:

      Big John...Just media small minds hyping something they don't understand...they THINK...oppening day should be sold out by now!
      That's just BS..
      How would you like to be running a business like the Rays and have to
      read/hear/watch that bull shit....and when the fans read it they go ..
      Oh my god no one is going to oppening day...too bad... but thats their
      (media's) job......Go figure.....

    • I didn't because I am not sure how it is relevant. Comparing the Rays ticket sales to other teams is nice if you are trying to settle a barroom bet. But if the Rays sell tickets faster than the Padres, it is not going to keep the team from moving. The Rays don't get extra revenue points just because they sell more tickets than than a handful of teams. The proper comparison is to the Rays past seasons. It is very clear that the Rays need to increase attendance substantially, and this suggests that there is no more interest in opening day than there was in 06, 07 and 08 when sellouts happened on the day of or a day or two before.

      but since you asked...

      13 of the other 19 teams that open the first week have sold out already.
      If we include teams that open the second week, it is 19 out of the other 29.

      that means the Rays are somewhere between 20th and 30th as far as opening day ticket demand. Last year the Rays were 23rd in attendance.

      • John says:

        I'm not sure comparing this year to 06 07 & 08 is terribly relevant either. Conditions today are vastly different than they were then (both negatively as far as the economy and positively baseball-wise). Not selling out opening day two weeks before the fact just doesn't seem apocalyptic to me.

        Now, other things cause me concern. But this, not so much.

  10. Tone says:

    I wish they(owners/media) would leave the attendance thing alone till the offseason. TV ratings are huge, and most baseball fans in the area are transplants or raised by transplants so their loyalties tend to be Yanks, Phils, Sox, or Cubs. Things have been changing and they know it, moving somewhere else is stupid since they would have to start over again. They just want a new stadium and the economy is shit so they will not get one as soon as they would like. They will get a new stadium eventually, strong arm media threats are tired and old. Let's ponder the value of Gabe Kapler vs Justin Ruggs, and is wasting 9 million dollars with a roster void better than wasting 9 million dollars with a young hungry PRODUCTIVE player filling that void?

  11. Gabe says:

    Charlotte already has the land set aside to lure a stadium near downtown, and with the Triple A Bulls 3 hours away, it could be a nice fit.

  12. Don says: more time ...since we don't want to bring in other teams for comparison....only the Ray's progress....
    Who is one of the only teams to INCREASE their attendance the last 3 years and WILL INCREASE their attendance again this year!
    Just curious??? Progress is our most important product! Go Rays!

  13. Brian H says:

    jesus professor. you are my favorite to read rays stuff on, but comeon! you sound like john romano and co. the rays will sell out this game, they have had there first winning seasons, in team history. they are building a fan base, 2 years ago opening day, there was little to no excitement. unfortunatley the first 10 years of the franchise, was just digging a grave.Until stu showed up with rope to try to get us out of this hole. we are not quite out of it yet but we are making strides. we might as well as treat these first 2 years as expansion years.
    I cant stand the negativity on this in the paper. I am a season ticket holder, and to hear this constant negativity is BS. it does two things it makes fans feel like its a hopeless cause and secondly gives hillsborough residents an excuse to sit on their couches. "it will never work in ST pete" excuse. IF the rays have a season like last year, or better like the 2008 season, i guarantee another increase in attendance in a down economy in one of the hardest hit states/cities in a C+ stadium.
    I know things arent all sunshine and bubblegum, but even if the evangelist on the street is right about impending doom and armageddon, nobody wants to hear it.

  14. Brendan says:

    San Antonio will have plenty of teams to choose from. The Reds, Braves, A's and Astros still have tickets available. I think it was three years ago I was able to walk up and buy 3 tickets for the opener in Oakland vs. the Red Sox.

  15. Brian H says:

    none of those teams are only 12 years old, and just had their first winning season either.


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