It is sad this column must be written. But it has to be done. This disturbing trend of bashing the Tampa Bay area has gone on long enough. Are Rays fans bad? I’m not here to answer that question, because there isn’t enough data to come to a conclusion.
There is one HUGE factor in the lack of attendance for the Rays (and Bucs, for that matter). Sure, Tampa is a transient area. Yes, the stadium location is the worst in MLB from a demographic perspective. Sure, this is a young organization that is wrapping up it’s 14th season that doesn’t have the 100 plus seasons of legacy and multi-generational support some other LARGER markets enjoy. What about the fact that because of the lack of Fortune 1000 companies, the Rays have the fewest corporate season tickets holders in MLB. Those all have an impact on the Rays attendance, but there is one, far greater issue at play for the lack of attendance at Rays games during a competitive season. It’s the economy stupid!
It’s that simple. Well, apparently, it’s not that simple. A time consuming (not really) Google search would turn up volumes of data pertaining to the real estate and mortgage collapse that the US has been going through for the past few years. Where is ground zero for these collapses? You (didn’t) guess it. Tampa Bay.
How bad is it in the Tampa Bay area? Underemployment now tops 20% in the Bay area.What does that mean? Considering underemployment is the same data that was used to compile UNEMPLOYMENT during the Great Depression, that’s an awfully high number. One, oft cited economist, from the Great Depression shows that the underemployment of the Tampa Bay area is the same as it was nationally during the Great Depression. Yes, the Tampa underemployment figures are eerily similar to the figures from the Great Depression.
How obtuse can you be? Could you imagine the scribes of the 1930′s complaining about a lack of attendance for Yankees or Red Sox games? Marie Antoinette had more class. How dare the people in Tampa choose food, rent, car payment, mortgage payment over the Rays!
It is sickening that the elites, perched from their lofts in New York City, Boston, or Bristol can’t fathom why people wouldn’t attend a baseball game. Maybe this will help them understand why. -Toby David