In covering the Tampa Bay Rays’ surprise trade of ace David Price to the Detroit Tigers, USA Today Sports’ MLB writer Mark Whicker reported that Tampa Bay fans deserve better.
Really, Mark? The Tampa Bay Rays players may deserve better, but certainly not Tampa Bay area pro sports fans?
Before making such a bold claim, did you take the time to check out the pathetic attendance figures involving Tampa Bay area sports teams? You would quickly learn that they don’t deserve better!
Nationally known for its gorgeous beaches, 360+ average days a year of sunshine and a moderate cost of living, the Tampa Bay area has never been recognized as a crazed sports fan mecca. It’s always been regarded as a fantastic vacation destination and a wonderful place to call home or to retire.
With so many options for fabulous free entertainment, Tampa Bay area sports junkies have been justifiably accused of eschewing the area’s professional and college sports teams teams.
And those honest fans like me really don’t deserve better. We think differently, live our lives differently and make decisions on personally attending professional sporting events differently.
We say why plunk down a minimum $100 a person for parking, tickets and concessions to sit in a sweltering hot Raymond James Stadium to watch a bedraggled Bucs squad when we could plant our butt in a beach chair and dig our toes in the sugary white sands of Pinellas County’s crystal clear Gulf of Mexico waters?
Or, why would we overpay to watch America’s pastime in Tropicana Field’s chilly air conditioned confines when we could be fishing, boating, biking, picnicking or swimming in one of the Tampa Bay area’s many free choices for leisure activity?
Transplanted northerners and midwesterners moved to the Tampa Bay area to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. Sure, they may be baseball fans, but not necessarily Rays fans.
Their allegiance more than likely lie with the team they followed growing up in an area other than Florida. And, it hasn’t changed.
USA Today’s Whicker whiffed badly when penning that Tampa Bay Rays fans deserve better.
Simply, they don’t. And ESPN has tracked the statistics to prove it.
According to ESPN, the Tampa Bay Rays have finished dead last (that’s 30th out of 30 MLB teams) in attendance for the past three seasons, drawing an average of 19,255 in 2012, 18,645 in 2013 and 17, 389 so far this season.
Pick a different professional sport and the numbers still don’t lie about where Tampa bay area sports fans’ entertainment preferences can be found. And, it’s not necessarily in raymond James Stadium.
Though the Tampa Bay Rowdies haven’t quite advanced to the more premier USA professional soccer league, the team wants to move up.
But, the 2013 NASL champions only averaged 4,051 fans per game and their chances for a new franchise will be slim. MLS desires a prospective new franchisor to put at least 10,000 fans in the stands per game in order to be considered a serious contender.
USA Today Sports’ should have researched the easily obtainable information available on the ESPN and MLS sites about attendance figures. Then, Mark Whicker would have known that Tampa bay area sports fans don’t deserve better.
They’d deserve better, expect better and would BE better fans if they only attended games in their backyard.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!