I visited Tropicana Field Tuesday night for the Rays playoff clinching win against the Orioles. Fortunately David Price was on and there were no pitching changes during innings and the game finished in 2:04. Quite a fast baseball game. The experience was certainly unlike any other Major League Baseball game I have ever been at.
We arrived at the ballpark and paid $5 to park and we were set to scalp tickets at below face value. This actually proved somewhat difficult because we had 4 people and 10 minutes to game time scalpers had sold almost all seats of four together (the only offer was $80 for 4 outfield seats). This is what happens when people are non committal about going and you can't jump all over 4 seats together for $20 total on stubhub. Not to worry we would just walk up and grab $13 seats and move down. The strange night began when we saw walk up ticket sales had 500 people in line. This was unprecendented for me but we weren't in a rush to get inside.
The night before, David Price and Evan Longoria called out the fans for not filling up the ballpark (12K to a playoff clinching games). A coworker of mine joked that if the players hadn't called out the fans we wouldn't be waiting in this line. The Rays fan noticed that my coworker was wearing a Phillies shirt and quipped well you only had 16K show up to your clincher, failing to realize the Phils clinched in DC on a weeknight and many of those were Phillies fans. There were several ways he attempted to defend the fan support...
1. Transplants- You grew up rooting for other teams
This is certainly a good point and I agree to an extent. However it doesn't defend a reason for having a team in Tampa. I would also argue that even if you are a baseball fan you would go to a few games a season or at the very least go see your team play when in town. Lou attends a few Phillies games a year and follows the team because he's a baseball fan. I attended the game on Tuesday because hey it's something to do, I like baseball, and frankly Tampa is boring as hell.
2. Poor Stadium
The stadium is awful and probably the worst I have been too and I have been to about 20 parks. Its a dome and a poor one at that. They are special rules for the catwalks, its not a real stadium but it only holds 36K. This is probably costing them between 5 and 10 K per night. However, for those that hated the Vet it would sell out if the Phils were in playoff contention late in the year.
3. Poor Location
It lacks quality public transportation but I would argue that the traffic was mild and most people who take public transportation everywhere can't afford a car and therefore can't afford a ticket.
My ticket cost $13 dollars and would have been cheaper if purchased in advance. I was able to sit lower level down the first base side. I am tired of you bitching about the economy. It sucks deal with it.
All of his arguments were reasonable for low attendance but they didn't leave me feeling confident that Florida should have multiple baseball teams. It won't happen but I would love to hear the only good thought Selig ever had come back...contraction.
The fans at the game were irritating because they snuck in Vuvuzellas (World Cup buzzing) and cow bells. It felt like a minor league game with fans more interested in promotions and eating rather than the actual game. To be fair the 17K Rays fans that were there made noise late whenever there was 2 strikes on an Orioles hitter. Its more than I expected. The following night the Rays were giving away 20K free tickets. If you made a $3 donation at the game you should get a free ticket and a chance to win the shirts off the players backs. Not surprisingly, I did not see many takers.
For the playoffs, The Rays are offering exclusive playoff ticket access for $100 a person. So for $200 upfront you can get guaranteed playoff ticket access throughout the playoffs. The ability to purchase 2 tickets to ever playoff game for as low as $30 a ticket. Not bad at all. Can you imagine what the going rate would be in Philadelphia? In New York? In Boston? O wait never mind.