The Tampa Bay area is a sports marketplace that entertains itself so often through sports competition and tends to produce athletes for multiple sports at all levels. We’re fans through and through though.
You would not think that’s the case with attendance at Tampa Bay Rays games at Tropicana Field this season, though… or last season. Or the year before.
There’s a conversation that has to be had here in the marketplace. It’s been sidestepped to create a shallow build-it-for-me, Tampa-vs-St. Petersburg factor that pits the market against itself.
The answers will vary for whoever sees the question and it really isn’t a question for others because they aren’t staying away… Others aren’t even fans and it’s not a subject they care about (and yet, that makes their answer relevant).
The fact is, the Tampa Bay Rays and the politicians of Tampa Bay collectively ought to be having a public survey about this instead of trying to get a city or county to build a new ballpark outright with logistics damned in the name of profit potential.
Instead, what’s likely to play out is silence from the powers-that-be in Bay area politics. Silence in general while St. Pete based politicians and fans croon how they are in the driver’s seat now because Tampa and Hillsborough County did not conduct a payout for a Ybor City ballpark by the deadline set by the Rays.
That doesn’t answer the question, though. That doesn’t look at why sports-loin g residents of Tampa Bay aren’t going to more games as-is (while they attend right, fine and good at Raymond James Stadium and Amalie Arena).
Mind you, this isn’t an attempt to guilt fans and residents for not going to the ballpark more often. It’s meant as a logistics question as everyone lives that vary on what they can and can’t do or what options are accessible to them.
And most importantly of all, it makes the base — the fans, the consumers, the residents — the focal point in all the stadium brouhaha. It’s a personal option, it’s a personal choice, it’s a personal ability, it’s a personal situation…
The sad part is, I don’t know if anyone in power (Rays owner Stuart Sternberg or politicians of the greater Tampa Bay area) will give a care in the end. The residents that matter turns into only those of city jurisdiction and not the other locals of the metro area. What matters is the town or the county; the other one is the competition or someone not to care about because someone else represents them.
It sullies the region by way of it but, hey! Civic pride!
I’m getting away from what I’m trying to push here, folks and that’s talk. There’s a stadium sitting mostly empty on a regular basis. There’s a reason for it and I don’t see the media, the politicians or the team discussing this. We, the region, won’t find an answer and a resolution if we don’t have a discussion about the issue.