Booger McFarland: Are There Too Many Teams in Tampa Bay?

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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It’s been the big debate in this town for the last, I don’t know how long, at least since I’ve been here. Why don’t more fans go to the games? Why is the Rays attendance near the bottom every year? Let’s move the stadium, let’s put it in Tampa. If you build it they will come. To me there are some truth to some of that however I think in the end it doesn’t really matter.

People want to pit Hillsborough against Pinellas which I think is crazy but it doesn’t matter. People want to say it’s the economy. I think there’s something to that argument but it doesn’t matter. People want to say build a new facility, still doesn’t matter. Let’s take the emotion out and think logically can we?

We are an area with 3 professional franchises that really only has the economy for 2. Think about it. When have Ray Jay, The Trop, and The Forum ever been packed during the same year? We have seen 1, even 2 but never 3 in a year. Football is king and will never be touched based on the revenue sharing and TV deal so let’s set that aside. The Lightning and The Rays are left year in and year out to battle for 2nd place in this area and right now the Bolts are winning.

The Lightning have gone from 21st to 8th in attendance in the NHL the last 5 years, selling out over 30 games total over the last 2 seasons. During that same time, the Rays attendance has gone down reaching a point where this year only 2 teams have declined more: the Astros at 15.5% and the Marlins at 39%. Once again take the emotion out and breathe.

Everyone will think they have the answer of how to fix the attendance problem but truth be told, it may be a problem that can’t be fixed. Are we open to that as the answer? Are we open to the fact that this town may have too many teams? Are we open to the idea that this isn’t a baseball town? I’m not saying I’m right, I’m just asking each and every one of you to take the emotion out of it and breathe. Try to see a different side than the one I’ve heard for 14 years!

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