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: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.
• 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.
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: