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Why Orlando Could Fix The Rays Attendance Woes

Why Orlando Could Fix The Rays Attendance Woes

Why Orlando Could Fix The Rays Attendance Woes
Photo Credit: Mike Carlson/Getty Images
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 30: Ji-Man Choi #26 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a two-run home run in front of catcher Jason Castro #15 of the Minnesota Twins in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Tropicana Field on May 30, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Why Orlando Could Fix The Rays Attendance Woes

Ben Franklin once said “Nothing is certain except death, taxes and the Rays having attendance issues.” I may have made one of those up, but we know it’s true. The Tampa Bay Rays are currently one of the best teams in baseball, yet they are 29th in attendance. They are above the Miami Marlins, who are one of the worst teams in the league. With ownership frustrated with attendance issues, the new stadium shouldn’t be in Tampa, it should be in Orlando 


During the opening series against Houston, three out of their four games had an attendance over 15k. The following series, at home against the Rockies, had their attendance over 10k. Taking away games against the Red Sox and the Yankees (Rays fans know, it might as well be an away game) their attendance broke 10k three times, their 2 games against the Dodgers and the Memorial Day game against the Blue Jays. What’s worse is following that Memorial Day game, less than 6,000 fans showed up to the second game against the Blue Jays the next day. That is the lowest since Sept 5th, 2017...when Hurricane Irma was about it hit. Since 2011, the Rays have never been over 29th in attendance.


I watched the Rays take on the Yankees at home for the first time this year and the crowd was erupting...when the Yankees did something. 


***But Chase, it’s always that way when New York or Boston come to town.***


You’re right, but this team doesn’t deserve that, not anymore. This team deserves a fan base that will attend the games, and not depend on their rivals to fill their seats. That fan base isn’t in Tampa, it’s in Orlando. 


***But Chase, it’s in St. Pete and I don’t want to drive over the 275 bridge. And besides, that’s baseball. No one likes baseball.*** 


Okay, let’s look at the most popular sport in the country, the NFL. Since 2008, the Buccaneers have never been higher than 23rd. That’s the NFL, the most popular sport in America...and they can’t break into the top 20. Better yet, their stadium actually in Tampa, not St. Pete. It’s not the location, it’s the city. Tampa is that friend that always makes excuses for not wanting to hang out. “Well, I don’t have a ride,” I’ll get you. “Yeah but I don’t have any money” I’ll spot you. “Yeah but…” We get it, you don’t want to go. The new stadium shouldn’t be in Tampa, it should be in Orlando 


According to Forbes’ yearly team valuation, the Orlando Magic made $223 million in revenue and $40 in revenue per fan in a metro area population of 2.4 million people. The Rays made $228 million in revenue and $33 in revenue per fan in a metro population of 3 million. It should also be noted that the Rays play as many home games as the Magic play regular season games. 


Attendance has never been a problem for Orlando. Since joining MLS, Orlando City has been in the top 6 in attendance every year. Their ECHL team, the Orlando Solar Bears, have been in the top 7 in attendance since 2012 and that is a mid level hockey team. Since the Dwight Howard trade, the Magic have been in the top 20 in attendance, with the exception being the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season where they were ranked 23rd. Not to mention, the Pro Bowl brought in 50,000+ for the three years it’s been in Orlando.


 ***But Chase, you just mentioned that Tampa has the higher metro population.*** 


Yes, but the tourism numbers help make up for that difference. According to Worldatlas.com, Orlando is the fifth most visited in the country with 48 million visitors. Not to mention, that Orlando International Airport is the busiest airport in the state. ***But what about the people who live in the state?***

Orlando is easier to drive to than Tampa.

To OrlandoTo Tampa
FromApprox TimeFromApprox Time
Tampa1 hr 30 minOrlando1 hr 30
Gainesville1 hr 45 minGainesville2 hrs
Jacksonville2 hrsJacksonville3 hrs 15 min
Daytona1 hrDaytona2 hrs 30 min
Melbourne1 hr 20 minMelbourne2 hrs 30 min

The biggest issue this move would face is location. Lake Nona is a budding community and you could put it there or buy some land and demolish the buildings that are on it. I know one building Orlando natives have in mind, and it rhymes with I-4 piesore. Or not move the stadium there and just demolish it anyway.


I’m not a business expert or anything but we are in danger of losing the Rays. An agreement was reached for a piece of land in hopes to build a baseball stadium in Montreal. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he won’t think about an expansion team until the Rays and the Athletics get a new stadium. The A’s are making progress toward a new stadium while the Rays are hitting a snag. The Rays ownership tried to get a stadium in Ybor City however, the plan fell through. Even Rob Manfred blasted the deal citing the county’s commitment among other things. We could very well see Rays ownership pack up and head to Montreal due to these attendance issues. I would much rather see the Rays stay in the state rather than them go elsewhere.

- Chase Bunker


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