Jan 22, 2012

Where's the Rays fans?

by Aaron Giddens

Empty seats
Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
We hear it every year, "There are no Rays fans." Of course we know this to be an extreme exaggeration by the Rays-haters. But something we also know is that Rays attendance at the Trop sucks. Yes there are many things factoring in to it and there being "no fans" is not one of them. But this is a deep problem that at the very least needs to be "patched" if we are to "earn" that new stadium most Rays fans want.

Just look at the facts, the Rays have ranked at or near the bottom in the league in attendance for quite some time. The least attended game last season, April 14 against the Twins according to Wikipedia, only drew 10,042. Yeah it could be worse, but it could also be so much better.

We know fans exist, just look at the TV ratings and the Radio ratings and even Twitter during Rays games. We also know fans exist due to the numerous Rays fan blogs that exist on the interwebs, just look at our "Other websites" page, there's plenty of them. The fans exist, there is no doubt about it. Most fans I've seen are even die-hard fans, such as our guest correspondent Amanda. All that said, it's a little confusing at times why the Trop isn't filled more.

It's getting clich├ęd now, fans need to support the team. We probably, more than other teams' fans, know that fan favorites are hard to hold on to. And 9 times out of 10, it's not a "Do I want to stay here?" problem, it's usually a "Do you have the money to pay me?" problem. Not a lot of people could fault them for wanting the money they've earned for their hard work.Though there are some that call them greedy, but that's a different subject for a different article.

Courtesy: @DAVIDprice14
To pay the players, the team need fans to attend. There's just no other way around it. It's the only way we have a hope of holding on to players like Evan Longoria and David Price. I can almost guarantee that most Rays fans don't want to see these fan favorites go anywhere. Where would the Rays Twitter Family be without it's weekly picture of Astro?

As much as we have criticized St. Pete for not supporting the team (just look at my history: 1, 2, 3, 4) this is a regional problem. Rays fans need to show how passionate they are about the Rays and attend the games. That's just the bottom line. If we don't, not only are we opening ourselves to more scrutiny by the baseball world, but we also open ourselves to more heartbreak as more fan favorites leave for greener pastures and if it continues we may also open ourselves up to the ultimate heartbreak: losing the team to another market.

My point in all of this is this: Rays fans love their team, we show it with pride outside the Trop. We are the Rays Republic. So it's high time we showed it by attending those games. It doesn't have to be a sell-out like the Red Sox, but we do need to be far above league average.

So all that said, Rays Republic, GO RAYS! Here's to a magical 2012.


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