Results tagged ‘ Rays attendance ’

If Florida Native Fans Embrace the Rays, Attendance Will Begin an Upswing

 

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I get upset every time I read something about sports fans in the Tampa Bay area being “bandwagon fans”.  Such article never take into consideration only 35 percent of fans in the state of Florida were actually born here.

Florida is currently grouped with 4 other states that have between 24.3 and 44.5 of their population born in their state. Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado are the only other states in that group, and only Colorado has a M L B franchise.

downloadBut none of these articles or bash blogs take into account that since the 1980’s the number grew from the mid 20’s to 35 percent at the time of the 2010 U. S. Census. 15% increase may not seem to be a lot to most, but to us natives, it is more and more people who share in this region as their birthplace and should establish local sports alliances as we grow older.

But the local teams also have to embrace this fact that less than 40 percent of their fan base is locally born and take measures to ensure these fans attach themselves to their local teams before family long-time allegiance plays havoc and they lose a fan based on their parent’s sports loyalties.

Only 10 states of 1/5th of our Nation have seen over 70 percent of their population born in their state.  M L B stronghold states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan are within that top tier native-born group that also include Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky.

download (1)If you look at the 2014 M L B attendance numbers, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were in the Top 15 for this past season.  Each of these states double the native population of the southernmost state in our country.

Just for giggles, let’s double the Rays 2014 attendance figures and see where they might have ranked in the overall 2014 if our Sunshine State had at least 70 percent of our residents born here.

The Rays had 1,446,464 fans cross their gates in 2014. Multiply that by 2 and we get 2,892,928 fans which would have vaulted them up to the 7th spot just above the Milwaukee Brewers who drew 2,797,384 through their turnstiles in 2014.

images (5)Now I’m only using this as an example, if the Rays  grew their attendance numbers 1.5 times in 2014, the Rays ( 2,169,696 ) would of cracked the M L B’s top 20 instead of being in 29th in attendance this season.

Now it might start to make some sense to the Rays Republic who have been arguing over the past several seasons that the Rays fan group under 14 get the best giveaways from the team.

Combine that with the fact those collectibles mostly happen during promotional days like Family Fun Days and you get a nice uptick in attendance, plus hopefully gather more loyalty and future franchise admiration for their hometown team.

That is why the Rays roll out the carpet for the younger generation, they will be the ticket buyers who takes the Rays back to 2 million plus fans through the gates. It is not the older crowd like myself who might be loyal fans, but with our age comes some limitations both physically and economically hamper us from attending as we have in the past.

images (4)That is why the kids get the great Evan Longoria drum sets, the Summer Camps and the opportunity on Sunday home games to get the autographs of Rays players. It is a subtle but insightful way for the Rays to embrace their young fans who will turn into adult fans and then hopefully stay in the region and produce another generation of Rays fans.

Who knows, by the time we get to the 2020 U.S. Census the Florida native number might rise to 45 percent which would put Florida on the lower end of the next level of native children currently being born in M L B states which includes Georgia, Washington, Maryland and California.

download (3)Teams like the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and even the Baltimore Orioles have over 100 years or at least 3 generations of native fans who grew up and adopted their teams based on their locality. Tampa Bay has not even been in the M L B 20 years are surely does have a transient fans who still have or pull out their home town jerseys when their old team comes to Tropicana Field.

My only hope is that the younger Rays fan who enjoy these great promotions and events stay within the Rays fold and help establish a lasting Rays tradition within their future families or relationships.

The Rays have planted the seeds for the younger members of our regions to embrace their local teams. Now we just have to wait until those seeds mature here in Tampa Bay and hopefully we will still have a team to call our own and to introduce to their kids and eventually their grand kids.

images (3)Baseball may be a business, but sometimes even in business you have to embrace the family approach and hope it expands and makes even the youngest fan want to grow up to be devote Rays fan.

 If you were wondering, the Colorado Rockies ( 2,680,329 ) ranked 10th in overall  M L B attendance this season.  The Rockies have been an M L B franchise since 1993 and the 2nd generation of Rockies fans seemed to have embraced the team.

That shows even in Tampa Bay, there is hope as long as the native sons and daughters support their local sports roots.

Why Reopen this Rays Wound Now?

 


 
 

Sometimes this whole Tampa Bay Rays attendance situation feels to me like a cut or a scratch that never seems to want to heal. Just when you think it has finally growing some new skin of its own, it get broken again and you have to dab it with some Neosporin or Aloe Vera to promote the healing process all over from scratch. You want the itching and the clawing of opinions to just go away, but all you can do is keep dabbing the ointment and hope that one day, the final healing process will begin.


It was fine with me when the National and local Media threw their two cents into the ringer on this issue considering I have lost so much respect for the National talking heads (ESPN) and the local fish wrap (St. Petersburg Times) since they were the main culprits in re-opening the wound for such a ling time during this 2010 season. But lately, the infestation has crept into the sanctuary of the Rays clubhouse as the media wishes to expand the illness and infest others into the battle.

First the media got Rays Manager Joe Maddon to speak his mind about the issue, and it was front page fodder. Maddon had inadvertently gone into the media “company line” and protested the lack of fans in the seats earlier in the Rays season, and somewhere in the darkness, the media editors were smiling like Cheshire Cats. They had the Big Kahuna of Rays fandom denouncing the decrease in fans in the seats, but no answers spilled from the Rays skipper on how to correct this ailment.

And the media finally bagged another big fish when they got Evan Longoria, who has not played since last Thursday night to chime in his personal two-cents on the lack of Rays fans in the seats.


“I don’t think there’ any more time for rationalizations. We figured if we have a chance at the beginning of September then maybe the fans will come and now it’s the end of September and its almost October and were still kind of looking up in the seats going where is everybody?”


You got to admire theory of Longoria, who it has been told is healthy enough to play if asked, but is sitting on the bench as a precursor to a healthy playoff push by the Rays. But what has got me to lose some respect points with Longoria is the honest fact he somehow forgot where he plays baseball:


“Obviously we want to bring a championship to Tampa. And we’d like more than 12,000 to 15,000 to know about it.”


The media sirens also honed in last night and got a major coup by capturing Rays All Star David Price in their ever growing circle of attendance disappointment. Price ended up posting a comment on his Twitter page about the lack of fan support.


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“Had a chance to clinch a post season spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands…embarrassing”


Then a few hours later, Price might have been schooled by some of his close allies that it might have seemed a bit empathetic to the plight of most of the Tampa Bay Rays fans personal choices in regards to attending games and issued a small apology making it seem like the emotions churning in the Rays clubhouse possibly influenced his outburst

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“If I offended anyone I apologize I did not think it was gonna turn into this…”

The difference in Longoria and Price’s responses compared to the media’s usual firestorm towards the Rays fan base is pretty simple to me. Longoria is a budding leader of massive proportions in this Rays clubhouse, and he might have felt a personal obligation to stoke the fires a bit, but I know he did not mean to make the attack malice or laced in personal agendas unlike the St Petersburg Times. I do however find huge problems with Longoria thinking he goes to work in “Tampa” and not St. Petersburg, but then again, I am extremely proud of this town.


Both Price and Longoria were expressing their own personal feelings and emotions with the Rays fourth smallest crowd of the season. I totally get that, and do feel that this was a time for this community to post up and show their support. But then again I was coached at a younger age to see positives and evoke positives out of a negative situation. It is easy for people in today’s World to focus on the slight negative situations instead of exposing a more positive and encroaching enthusiasm through positive speech.

How easier would it have been for either player to have provided positive comments or even a plea for the fans in this Tampa Bay area to come out and celebrate with the Rays on Tuesday night. Push out a request, a invitation for the Tampa Bay community to join the 10,000+ Rays faithful fans to come celebrate a great 2010 Rays season and toast to a impending playoff campaign.

By the actions and comments of either of these Rays players throwing out positive affirmations and showing “open arms” to inviting the community to their party, the message might not have put some on their heels or even commenting negatively towards Longoria or Price. Positive motivation might get more people in the stands instead of the negative comment of two guys making extreme salaries as opposed to most in Tampa Bay right now.

Opening this ever festering wound of low attendance at this critical point has some beads of merits, but it also could evoke little positive rewards by badgering a community already on it’s heels after tall tales of oil on our beaches and mass unemployment in our community. Alienating some within the Tampa Bay community before an important last two home games and a solid push towards the post season might send some away from the Rays box offices.

Positive emotions and words right now will have people coming to the Trop for the next two games. Finding fault, pushing blame or even attacking those who pay your salary is not productive at this point. It is disappointing to see the army of empty blue seats overshadowing the Rays and their fan base.

Only answer to that is simply to invite the Tampa Bay community to come down tonight or tomorrow and celebrate with friends, family and other Rays fans as this team finishes their primary goal of getting back into the post season. To get that usual FSN/Sunsports broadcast watcher to want to experience this celebration firsthand with his local community friends and neighbors in a positive light, not by pushing him deeper into his Baca lounger with tales of nonsupport and not deserving baseball.

Some people forget that Rays Baseball is a business. With that in mid, if a business or its “employees” constantly admonished my self worth with negative comments addressed towards me for not buying their wares, then my desire for their goods and entertainment would be moot and I would partake in other options. There might lie the root of the whole enchilada.  

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