Challenges for Rays
Watching the Rays on TV and seeing a sea of blue in the background (empty seats), I started to think about why the Rays don't draw and came up with the following conclusions:
Coming from Massachusetts, we have the Red Sox, and most games are sell-outs. The cheapest ticket is $80, plus $60 to "pak ya kaa." Then, you have to take out a second mortgage to get something to eat. Mostly, you have to get the tickets from a scalper and pay a higher price, if you can get them at all.
The reason being, it's the only team in all of New England, but most importantly, most fans are from New England and are not transplants from other states, as most folks are in Florida.
My father saw the Sox in the World Series almost 100 years ago. I was in attendance with my son for Game Six of the 1975 World Series - some say it was the greatest game ever played. I also was at Fenway Park when Ted Williams ended his career by hitting a homer at his last at-bat, and now my grandkids are die-hard fans.
Fenway Park is an ancient park with 14-inch seats with iron arms. That's tough when you have a 30-inch butt. At the end of the game you have black and blue hips from getting in and out of the seats. It's not very conducive for comfort.
If you're from New England, chances are you're a Red Sox Fan - New York, a Yankees fan; Michigan, a Tigers fan, etc. At a Rays game there is a very small fan base, and sometimes there are more fans from the opposing teams, because most people from Florida are transplants from some other area.
The Rays organization does a bang-up job to attract fans - cheap parking, plenty of give-aways, bring-in-your-own-eats, concerts, etc. I don't know of another club that does this.
I love the Trop. It's great to watch a game, and I don't think a new ballpark is the answer. Our friends to the south (Marlins) spent $600 million on a new park, and their attendance is down 39 percent from last year and the worst in all of baseball, so a new stadium is not the answer.
Don't get me wrong; I love the Rays. However, they're my second-favorite team in back of the Red Sox. (My second-favorite team used to be anybody who beat the Yankees.) The Rays are highly subsidized by Major League Baseball. Unless attendance improves, I see them leaving town, and that would be a very sad day. But MLB will not continue this practice forever.
So, everybody, go to a game if you can, whether you're a Rays fan or not. It's a great joy.
Alternatives for Rays
Regarding "Expensive day out" (Your Views, July 11):
Reader Elizabeth A'Hearn spotlights a real cost problem for families on nights out at Rays games that management could fix. Offer "maximum-price" packages for everything - parking, seats, souvenirs, snacks - with added discounts for subsequent package purchases.
For a test of Rays fans' interest in games played away from "The Stadium At The End Of The Road," consider renting Steinbrenner Field (11,026 seats) in Tampa for substantial chunks of their night games, over at least two seasons. The comparison might be interesting.
And if all else fails, consider exciting new senior-oriented events that could be laid out on the grounds under the Trop's dome: overhand horseshoe tournaments; real American LeMans races for golf carts (at least as exciting as NASCAR); and fan-participation events of athletic endurance - for example, who can stand at home plate the longest without moving a muscle?
Call it the B.J. Upton Open Nine-Hole Golf Tournament, with all holes played simultaneously (helmets optional).
Share the blame
I take exception to Cathy Starnes' comment "vote Democrat" regarding the proposed immigration bill ("Five reasons," Your Views, July 13). No one can know the complete bill from media sources. However, I read it is a bipartisan effort, so why not blame Dems as well as Republicans for those items she does not agree with? I, too, wish the government would have been more alert regarding visa dates, etc. At least this bill does not give free public assistance, and would make people work, pay taxes, be responsible and get in line behind those applying the legal way.
Very soon colleges and universities will welcome a new freshmen class, and people will debate theoretical versus professional/applied degrees.
Although some defend social science and humanities majors, others say we need more STEM majors. I believe the vast majority of degrees are useless without work experience, so the debate over STEM majors is a waste of time.