Take me out to the ballgame?
This week, the question came up about why more people are not attending Rays games even though the Rays are in first place and a marquee team (the Yankees) was in town. Here are the results of a Times online poll asking why attendance might be down and a few of your responses.
Why aren't you going to Rays games?
Stadium location: 31 percent.
Current economic climate: 30 percent.
Too expensive: 18 percent.
Other things to do: 17 percent.
Not buying into recent on-field success: 4 percent.
Total votes: 709
I thought it was interesting that only four percent (29 votes) hasn't bought into the Rays early success so far this season. Anyway, I've received plenty of reader reaction over the past few days, so here's a sampling of those letters:
The answer to the subject question is straightforward; it is not the state of the economy, the location of the stadium, ticket price, or other things to do; it is simply that every game is televised. Why go to the stadium when you can watch the game in the comfort of your home? If the Rays want to increase attendance, black out TV coverage within a 50-mile radius of the stadium. This is not rocket science. Please don't get me wrong. I enjoy watching the Rays on TV and attend five to 10 games a year. And if the Rays weren't on TV I would probably go to twice as many games. If a lot of fans are like me that would double attendance. By the way, I won't like it if you stop televising the Rays games, but I'll get over it.
Perhaps the reason the fans aren't turning out to see the Rays this year is because there are just too many other places for their income has to be spent. Gasoline is rapidly heading toward $4 a gallon, food prices are going through the roof, insurance rates for homes and cars keep increasing, as do our taxes. Then on top of all that, the powers that be decide that this year they will resume paid parking at the stadium then add a price increase for tickets to the prime games and a $2 surcharge on all tickets that are not purchased five hours prior to the start of the game. I think the Rays owners and management need to do some serious rethinking.
You ask why more people don't attend the Rays games? I'll tell you why. I have been to three games this year and I'm not sure I’m going back until the St. Petersburg police learn traffic control. At last Saturday's game it took 30 minutes to go from Tampa to St. Pete and 62 minutes to go from the interstate ramp to the parking lot at the Trop down Martin Luther King Street. There were no police north of Central Avenue. Cars were cutting in line from all directions. The traffic lights were not timed for the increased north/south traffic. So three or four cars got through and we sat there with little or no cross traffic. I have to say that the Tampa police do a much better job at Raymond James Stadium with three or four times the number of vehicles and fans.