Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Your Excuses, My Responses

Last night, 15,244 attended the Rays victory over the Blue Jays. The Trop wasn’t even half full for a game against a division rival, and that’s pathetic. I don’t expect sellouts every night, but I do expect an above-average crowd on a nightly basis. Rays Index has been tracking attendance and as you can see, the team is still below the 2009 goal. There is no excuse for this. Having a below-average attendance is going to really hurt the team’s future as Stu Sternberg needs to be able to afford to pay quality players, and his income comes from ticket sales.

I have heard so many excuses as to why people won’t attend games over the last few years. I have a response to every one of your excuses.

Excuse: I’ll go when the team is good
Response: Have you watched these guys play? They may be in 3rd place, but they are still one of the best teams in baseball. The Rays would be in 1st or 2nd if they played in any division other than the AL East. Not only that, but the Rays also have one of the best offenses in the league. The Rays are 2nd in the majors in runs scored. They are young, fast, powerful, and exciting. Maybe you were accustomed to using this as an excuse, but like the movie “Borat,” this is so 2006. Last place teams such as Baltimore, Washington, and Arizona all have higher attendance than the Rays.

Excuse: I can’t afford to attend the game
Response: If you are saying this honestly, then I accept this as an excuse, and commend you for making wise choices in this recession. However, how many of you are saying this truthfully, and how many are just saying this because this excuse cannot be argued with? A little over 2.5 million people live in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Hernando counties. Of those, are you going to tell me that 25,000 cannot afford $20 for a baseball game? You sure could afford it last year during the playoffs and the World Series, so why can’t you afford it now?
Additionally, ESPN rankings just called a Rays’ game the single most affordable game to attend in professional sports, not in Florida, not in baseball, in ALL OF PROFESSIONAL SPORTS. You can bring your own food, park for free (with a carpool), and get a cheap ticket (average $18.35 per ticket). The economy is affecting all of the country, and 24 American cities average higher attendance than the Rays.

Excuse: I don’t want to drive there from Tampa
Response: Why not? I feel like Tampa residents believe that the water in St. Petersburg is poisoned, but only affects people from Tampa. I promise you, it’s not; St. Petersburg isn’t Cleveland.
Relative to other stadiums around the country, the Trop is actually easy to get to. There are highways that take you very close to the stadium. Traffic in Pinellas is rather light compared to metropolises around the nation. Do you hate the Howard Franklin? Last time I checked, there are 2 other convenient paths to Pinellas, the Gandy Bridge and the Courtney Campbell Causeway. How easy do you think it is to drive in the middle of downtown Los Angeles to get to Dodger Stadium in the middle of rush hour? Trust me, driving on the Howard Franklin feels like driving a racecar when compared to driving the 110N through downtown LA at 6:30. The Dodgers are 4th in the league in attendance.

Excuse: I can’t get to the stadium by the time the game stars
Response: You really believe this garbage? I will prove you wrong. Assuming you have a normal job, you get out of work between 5 and 6pm. Tell me where in Pinellas or Hillsborough it will take more than an hour to get to Tropicana Field. According to MapQuest, to get to Tropicana Field it will take 43 minutes from Lutz, 41 minutes from Avila, and 38 minutes from USF. You can add 15 minutes for traffic and another 15 minutes for parking and walking. If you leave at 6pm from any of those locations, you will be in your seat by a 7:10 first pitch, or at the absolute latest by the bottom of the 1st (or if Kazmir is pitching, he will throw extra first inning pitches just for you so that you can be there by the dramatic bases loaded third out). Remember, your team can’t win or lose a baseball game in the 1st inning.

Excuse: I would rather watch the game on my nice new huge HDTV
Response: You miss A LOT of details of a sports game by watching it on TV. The games look great in high definition, but they look a heck of a lot better in real life. You get to see plays develop such as the full path of a fly-ball, a base-runner’s break in a stolen base attempt, or a second basemen breaking for a pick-off play. When watching the game on your couch, you don’t get into the progressive clap with 2 strikes or give a standing ovation after a big hit. In person, you get the full sights, sounds, smell, and feel of a game. There is nothing that compares to attending a live sporting event; watching the game on TV is not even close, even if it is on your 72inch 1080p LCD TV with 5.1 digital Dolby surround sound.

Excuse: I can’t bring my kids because the games end too late
Response: The Rays start their games at 7:10 and not 7:40 to be more fan-friendly. Besides, it’s summer vacation right now. What do your kids have to do tomorrow that they need to be in bed before 10:30?

Excuse: The Jonas Brothers are in town
Response: Although I wouldn’t know from experience, I can assume that watching a Rays’ loss is more fun than going to a Jonas Brothers concert.

Excuse: The Rays don’t have any tradition
Response: So why don’t you start it? I think a World Series appearance in 2008 is a damn good place to start. There is plenty of Rays’ pride in the Tampa Bay community. I see hats and tee-shirts everywhere I go. I was recently in the British Virgin Islands and saw multiple Rays’ hats. So if there are so many people claiming to be fans, why aren’t you showing up to games? The winning tradition is starting now, so this is as good of a time as ever to be a part of the crowd at the Trop. You won’t be ridiculed anymore by other teams’ fans for saying you are a Rays’ fan and for saying that you are on the bandwagon. You can just point at the 2008 AL championship banner.
Besides this, the Tampa Bay area is rich with baseball tradition. Baseball tradition in the Tampa Bay area goes from Babe Ruth to multiple teams having spring training in the area to the 2008 World Series. How much baseball tradition is there in Denver? There is nothing there compared to Tampa Bay, and the Rockies average 7000 more people a game than the Rays.

If you have more excuses as to why you don’t attend Rays’ games, please leave them in the comments and I will happily give you my rebuttal. Some of you may have legit reasons as to why you cannot show up, but most of you are just taking the easy way out. I will tell you this, you are the ones missing out on a great time watching a great team. Not only are you missing out, but you are slowly killing the team. The math is simple: no ticket sales=no income=lower payroll. So I urge you all, stop making excuses and show up to games. The experience will be great for you and will only make the team better in years to come. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why this is important.


  1. I would also like to add to the "I can't afford it" excuse: A ticket only costs ten dollars, you can park for free if there are more than 4 people in your car or if you park downtown and take the shuttle, and you can bring in all of your own food if you don;t want to pay stadium prices for the concessions. Top that off by tailgating in the parking lot and you can save the cost of those $9 beers.

  2. You just proved my point exactly. Attending a baseball game is what you make of it. You can get 4 $10 tickets, 4 $5 footlongs at Subway (damn those commercials)for $20 and a 12 pack of beer for $10. You are now looking at $70 for 4 people, so for $16.50 a person, you are entertained. That's the same as a movie ticket, popcorn, and a soda. That's cheaper than most meals eating out (assuming 1 or more beers).

  3. Obviously none of you went to the game last night because the cheap seats were $13 not $10 And if you did actually go you would have seen there were more people there than your usual Tuesday crowd. Oh and from the "$10 seats" you DON'T see as much detail as from your couchat home, such as ball and strike locations or replays(They didn't even show the replay of Upton gunning Hill on the Jumbotron. Stop being hypocrites and go to the game.

  4. $13 instead of $10, I apologize, I should have looked that up before I responded.

    I am not arguing that last night wasn't higher than the normal Tuesday night crowd, but what I am saying is that the normal Tuesday night crowd is not enough if it is 15,244.

    As for replays, the Rays are restricted by Major League Baseball rules as to what they can show on replay within the stadium. I can honestly say when I go to games, I go for the action, not the replays. If you need replays, you can DVR the game and watch them later on repeat, or catch 1 of 20 Sportscenters on every night, and there you will see any and all important replays that you need.

  5. The face value of the ticket isn't a problem. It's the surcharges! I'm one of the many Pinellas County residents that work outdoors (heat) for a typical Florida wage. I'm not in a position to purchase season tickets but I do make enough to attend select games, but most of the time I don't know if I'll be in the mood for a ballgame until mid-to-late afternoon. My point? If I don't find a way to purchase my tickets at least 5 hours in advance I am penalized with a day-of-game surcharge. I understand season ticket holders receiving discounts but I refuse to pay more than face value for a ticket if I make the effort to get to the box office after a long day at work.

  6. is my best friend. I have gotten tickets to non-prime weekday games for $1. Yes, $1. With the charges it comes out to $6, but still, that is 2 tickets for the price of one basically.

  7. Jeff, I am curious, how much are the surcharges (I do not have that information in front of me)?
    I would be curious to see if the ticket people with the Rays would allow you to pre-purchase a 10-game-package, but choose your games on 10 non-prime-game-days (assuming the game is not sold out). I bet if you talk to a ticket rep, they would work something out with you. They are all nice people with the only goal of filling up the Trop.

  8. Surcharges or not, I guess you missed the part about the most "affordable" in all of sports!
    Also tired of Blogs, media, talk shows taking up the negative view...
    The truth is the Rays attendance is up 20%+/-
    for 2009...What do you want??
    Give me another business or sports team up 20% this year?? Please!
    A little support from so called "reporting" would help!

  9. I am the anonymous from the first comment and I walked up last night and paid $13 at the gate with no surcharges. So yes, I stand corrected on the price but if that three bucks is keepng you home so be it. What makes me sad is that the games could be so much fun if we could get more people in the seats. I am happy to see attendance up even if only slighty and I am hopeful that this season we will see some increased numbers as we move closer to the playoffs.

  10. Anonymous, thanks for the update. I agree, games would be better and more rockin with 30,000 in the crowd.

    Bud Light, I agree, the increase is very nice, and you won't find it in many places around the country, but however it's not enough. I heard an interview with Matt Silverman this morning where he said before the season, they projected 29,000 fans a game. Right now, the Rays are around 22,000. This number will go up, but it needs to get all the way up there for the ownership to continue to spend as much money on the payroll as they have.

    The reason I wrote this is because for years, I kept hearing people say "I will go to the games when the Rays ownership puts money into the team and they put a winning product on the field." Well, the ownership has lived up to their end of the bargain. Fans are starting to live up to their end, but it still isn't enough. Fans keep finding reasons not to go to games, and a lot of them are just crappy excuses. I wanted to call out "fans" who use those excuses and make them aware that they need to start showing up more often in order to support our team.

  11. Dear Rocket Scientist...I like your business
    philosophy..."the increases are very nice....
    but not enough"..........
    Maybe you could help me find a similar business to buy?

  12. Rocket Scientist,

    Apologies for taking so long to respond to your response. $3.00 surcharge for non-prime games; $5.00 for prime. I've spent thou$ands since the team arrived in '98 but don't feel my loyalty to the franchise is recognized when I'm told I need to pay extra because my work and family schedules conflict with the schedule of the team.
    No apologies for the stand I take.