Friday, November 14, 2008

Can Tampa Bay Support the Rays?

If the Rays don't draw in 2009, the answer is probably no, and The St. Petersburg Times' Aaron Sharockman lists a bunch of reasons why they may never be able to draw:

The Times reviewed bellwether population and demographics for baseball's 25 U.S. metropolitan areas (four areas have two teams, and the Toronto Blue Jays play in Canada). The findings show consistently that the Tampa Bay area is in a difficult position compared to other markets:

• We make less money. Tampa Bay area workers earn less per capita than all but two Major League Baseball cities — Milwaukee and Phoenix — according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Workers who make less spend less on a luxury such as baseball.

• Our cost of living is high. Ten of baseball's 25 markets are cheaper to live in than Tampa Bay, according to a study that tracks housing, food, utility, and transportation costs. In fact, Tampa Bay's cost of living is closer to Chicago's than Houston's.

• We are older. The Tampa Bay area is the second-oldest baseball market behind Pittsburgh. The median age in Tampa Bay is 40.7; it's 34 in San Diego. Older markets means fewer families and fewer children — two qualities typically important to attendance.

• We aren't from here. The Tampa Bay area is one of only three markets where a majority of its U.S.-born residents came from out of state, according to Census figures. (Phoenix and Washington D.C. are the other two). Tampa Bay ranks last in the number of residents who were born in state — less than 900,000 out of a total population of more than 2.71-million.

The numbers help illustrate why Boston Red Sox fans have at times outnumbered Rays fans at Tropicana Field.
Throw in the economic bloodbath in which we currently find ourselves wading, and who knows where the Rays may be three or four years from now.

13 comments:

Grant said...

Pittsburgh is old...and there aren't many jobs 'round there, from what I hear.

Will this have an impact on Pittsburgh sports teams? I suspect it might, but those fans are also pretty loyal. I know lots of Pittsburgh fans who inherited it from die-hard parents who long ago left Western PA.

Interesting thought, though.

Jason @ IIATMS said...

In pinstripes?

/rim shot

Chadillac said...

When I think of Baseball and the State of Florida together, I still think of Spring Training. However, I think St. Pete/Tampa Bay can support a Major League team - they'll just always be a small market team. That's not the worst thing in the world.

Pete Toms said...

I've said it before here, can you say contraction?

As for Bradbury's comment, "Baseball put a team in Tampa Bay because they thought it could make money there," well, the expansion fee might have had more to do with it.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Totally. Had to pay off Vince Naimoli as well, who felt very burned by the whole Giants-to-Tampa fiasco in 1992.

Richie said...

Funny how teams used to always threaten to move to St. Petersburg if they weren't getting what they wanted.

Pete Toms said...

@ richie, I had the very same thought today, reading about how Magowan rescued the Giants from moving to TB / St Petes. I think Magowan was plenty smart enough to know which was the better baseball market. That's not meant to be anti - Magowan either.

Anonymous said...

APBA Guy-

Anyone who has spent significant time in FL knows the real market is Orlando. The whole scope of the discussion changes 60 minutes East of Tampa on I-4.

The Rays have to have a new stadium. That stadium may not come soon, but when it does, my guess is that it comes on I-4 20 minutes from Tampa and 20 minutes from Disney World, with fully retractable roof, a Disney Store, and discount ticket outlets to Disney, Universal, and Busch's 2 theme parks in the region.

Pete Toms said...

APBA Guy.

Disney owned the Angels with the idea that there would be "synergies" (what an awful, corporate term ) between their theme park and the ballpark. Didn't turn out that way. A lot of folks who were interested in one, weren't that interested in the other.

rob said...

Something doesn't jive with those numbers. People don't make much money in Tampa, yet the cost of living is high? Huh? Can someone explain that to me?

Jason said...

I Hope MLB plays like Public Enemy and shuts 'em down.............than move them to PORTLAND, OR a city that consistently sells out Trailblazer games and Portland/Vancouver Metro has a population equal to or greater than Tampa. Were the post on this dilemma, Shyster?

Jason said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_metropolitan_area

Josh said...

Given the older population (especially retirees), the Rays ought to try more 6:00 start times and no night games on the weekends.