The greater Tampa Bay metro area has a population in the millions. While the next US Census, to be conducted in 2020, may bring solid, true numbers, a simple Google Search gives you the picture in a round-about way: 2.783 million. That statistically estimate of the population of Clearwater, Tampa, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey and all the burgs of Tampa Bay combined is from 2010 but it gives you an idea there are plenty of people in the Bay area.
Now let’s go back to a simple question that I posted on social media and this blog last week, very simple but it will illustrate a point of issue that is not talked about plain-jane by politicians or media: What is keeping you from Tropicana Field?
Yesterday, June 1st, 2019, the Tampa Bay Rays played the Minnesota Twins at the Trop and drew a heady (sic) 14,381 to the Saturday afternoon game. The Tampa Bay Rays are in 2nd place in the American League East, they’ve got a .625 win percentage, they’re producing competitive baseball, be it in wins or losses (they dropped Saturday’s game ) and they drew 14,381 to a facility with a maximum seating capacity of 42,735.
Let’s do simple, simple math here tied to population based specifically on the three largest cities in the Tampa Bay metroplex: St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa. The first city and the math is how I’ll take things further.
The city of St. Petersburg, where Tropicana Field is situated, last had a population number produced in 2017 according to Google: 263,255. That number amounts to the population in the immediate vicinity of Tropicana Field. It does not give the personal stories of citizens, income, ease-of-access, or opinions on the stadium or the sport, it just gives a number. If you take that population number, with a little division you will see that 14,381 is just over 5% of the population of the city of St. Pete. (14,3881/263,255 = .0546276423999544; someone can complain that rounds up to 6%, but that’s beside the point).
For shits and giggles, what’s 5% of the city of Clearwater, the tourist destination just to the north of St. Petersburg and what can be seen as a midway point between the two biggest burgs of Tampa Bay? According to Google, a 2017 estimate of the population of Clearwater was 115,513. 5% of that is 6,310. If you add the two, same-side-of-the-bay cities together, 5% of the population is 20,691.
Ah, but the Hatsfield’s-vs-McCoys rhetoric when it comes to stadium blather is the city of Tampa. Tampa, the big name that owns half the Tampa Bay moniker and hosts two professional sports clubs in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa’s population number from 2017 is 385,430. While that tops the St. Pete/Clearwater combined population, it ain’t by much. Do the math and you get 21,055
I’m not including Largo, Pinellas Park, Seminole, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Oldsmar, New Port Richey, Lutz, Land’O’Lakes, Brandon, Riverview, Ruskin, Brandon and how-many-other townships and cities of the immediate region. Tropicana Field drew the equivalent of 5 percent of the population of St. Petersburg on Saturday. The sum of 5% of Clearwater-Tampa-St. Petersburg is 764,198. Do the math and your draw attendance of 5% is 41,746 or just under what is supposed to be the capacity of the Trop.
Now let’s ht the true negative: Take the population of the civic-trio that I just gave you the numbers for, divide the Tropicana Field attendance from June 1st game and you get the hefty, mighty, stop-embellishing-with-sarcasm-John numeric sum of 0.018818421403877; under 2% of the population. Do the grander math of the regional population estimate of 2,783,000 and the attendance at Tropicana Field for that one game amounted to 0.0051674452030183% or half a percent of the population.
And the scary fact is, Saturday’s attendance was better than what the Rays pull in during the average weekday.
So… uh, what keeps you away from Tropicana Field and Tampa Bay Rays games? This isn’t meant to guilt (“Attend more games! You have to!”), this is meant to put the information out there for those in control to see, hear, and take in. It’s talk that has to be out there so solutions to issues can be solved.
And a better question — when will the politicians on both sides of the bay ask the question in a unified conversation about baseball in Tampa Bay? The tradition of St. Pete-vs-Tampa and hosting Major League Baseball doesn’t have the region in mind. Nor does direct accommodations at Tropicana Field as the public is not drawn to a winning team.
There’s a problem here, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s talk and find a solution that isn’t team-relocation speculation.
UPDATE 06/02/2019 8:12 PM EDT: It would be really fitting to incorporate more percentage numbers given this afternoon’s attendance, wouldn’t it? That seemed like a good idea to me before I saw the telling stat.
The percentage difference would be so minor. Saturday’s 14,381 is only 235 people less than those in the building for the Rays loss to the Twins (14,616). The math differential is moot, while the situation remains a profound problem.