Originally Posted by Red Barchetta
We moved to the Sarasota area in 2005 and love it however I have to agree that the Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater area (largest combined metropolitan area in Florida) can't seem to support MLB and are also having serious problems with the NFL as well. Ironically, the NHL is doing well (Lightning).
I tend to watch the Bears game at a local watering hole and the past few seasons there have been many Bucs fans watching the games because of the local home game blackouts. I remember one Bucs fans sharing his displeasure about how so many people still remain fans of the teams they rooted for before moving to Florida. I asked him why so many Bucs "fans" don't attend the games since there are so many available seats? Bears, Packers, Giants, Steelers, etc. sell out when it's 5 degrees and the Bucs can't sell out when it's 70 degrees?!
The same thing with the Rays. When the SOX played them in the ALDS a few years ago, I went to all the games at the Trop and suffered through the cowbell rage. I actually saw some Rays fans wearing team jerseys with the price tags still attached!
I also had a nice spirited discussion with one lady who's mouth was as loud as her cowbell and was laughing when she couldn't answer my question by naming five other Rays players besides Evan Longoria.
I don't think Tampa Bay area deserves the Rays. I know the owners are trying to move the team to a downtown Tampa site directly across from the St. Pete Times where the Lightning play. The bonds to pay off Tropicana Dome expire in 2016 even though their lease does not expire until 2024. Since the dome is going to be paid off soon, the Rays lawyers are already working to get them out of their lease which MLB will support.
I think that the Rays would do much better in a stadium near downtown Tampa. As you stated, the Lightning is doing very well and I know their fans are very loyal as I've been to a few games at the Forum and check out their Facebook page once in awhile. They broke their TV viewership ratings the other night and are drawing very well at the Forum. I'm still a Blackhawk fan but the Lightning is a very close second as I never miss one of their televised games which just about all of them. I also watch most of the Rays games unless the Sox are on the tube.
I've been to quite a few Sox-Rays games at the Trop and last year I was surrounded by season ticket holders who knew the game and all thought that the Rays would draw better in downtown Tampa.
As for St Pete, I think it's a great little city, the key word is little and there are just not enough people in St. Pete and not enough from Tampa who are willing to make the trip south to support the team.