|Baltimore's Koji Uehara|
pitched Monday before
a Tampa Bay audience
of empty seats.
They aren't the worst-drawing team in the league — there are five AL teams (Cleveland, Oakland, Kansas City, Toronto and Baltimore) doing worse at the gate. Still, for a quality team to draw as poorly as the Rays is a problem.
Tropicana Field is not among the 19 stadiums in which I've seen a game. All I know of it is what I see on TV and what I read. There is a general consensus that, as a baseball venue, it's worse than the Metrodome; in my experience, that's pretty bad. An unappealing facility in an unappealing, not-easily accessed location is a handicap.
I spent a lot of money over the Metrodome years to watch the Twins play there, because I am a Twins fan and that's where they played. I wouldn't — and never did — write that anybody else had to make that same choice. It is no coincidence that the Twins attendance shot through the roof this year with Target Field. The Metrodome handicapped the team as a draw. But when the team was really good, the handicap was brushed aside. People packed the place.
That isn't the case in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Whether that's because there is no sense of fan connection to the relatively new Rays, because the economy is so sour there, because the facility really is that much worse than the Metrodome, because the franchise doesn't market the team as well — any or all of those things may be real factors.
It will be interesting to see how well, or poorly, the Rays draw during the playoffs.