Trickier, however, is how to make it work — how to make a baseball stadium attractive not only to the Rays, but to baseball fans who largely have stayed away from the Trop, where the team has finished last in attendance in 10 of its 18 years, and next-to-last in three other years.Everyone now knows what we first started identifying in 2009: the Trop problems were not as much facility-related as they were location-related. I also forecasted in 2010 that perception-related issues would continue to push attendance numbers down.
But there are even more issues to resolve moving forward, as the Trib explains:
“Letting the Rays look isn’t the difficult question,” city council member Darden Rice said last week. ”The difficult question is, what if they look and they want to come back and build a new stadium at Tropicana Field?”Sounds like St. Pete's council has been reading up on important blog posts like this one!
Or, as Rice and others said, deciding whether a baseball stadium is the best use of the 85 acres of prime real estate on the edge of the city’s booming downtown.
The Trib also weighed Andrew Zimbalist's "MLB wants to be downtown" comments with the new mentality of, "look, the Braves can build in suburbia!" It's a debate playing out in the Toytown vs. Downtown discussions.
ALSO READ: Would St. Pete taxpayers foot bill for another stadium?
But one of the most interesting comments in the Trib story comes at the end, from St. Petersburg councilman Jim Kennedy:
Kennedy, who has opposed letting the team look outside the city, said if the Rays make a more permanent commitment to St. Petersburg more people will come to the games. Kennedy, a season-ticket holder, said baseball is generational, where grandparents, parents and kids follow the same team, and it needs time to take root.Actually, the Rays started planting those seeds just 25 games into their contract.
“When you have a 30-year use agreement and you try to get out 10 years into it, it doesn’t lead to a whole lot of unity,” he said.
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