The Tampa Bay Rays sit firmly in the American League playoff race as they currently face the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series. While the Rays find themselves primed for a second consecutive world series run, it seems that their recent success has not translated to ticket sales at Tropicana Field.
In the 2021 regular season, the Tampa Bay Rays averaged 9,500 fans per game. The Rays finished the season with 100 Wins which was good for first in the American League East division. The past three seasons, the Rays have earned a place in the postseason, a feat that this franchise was not used to on a regular basis.
It is quite unfortunate, that the Tampa Bay Rays are unable to draw fans as they are an up-and-coming team with so much upside in their farm system. The Rays are finding success on the field. The question becomes, where will that success end up in the future.
The Tampa Montreal Project
If you haven’t heard already, the Tampa Bay Rays have floated around the idea of playing a season in which they would play half of the season in St. Petersburgh, Florida, and the other half in Montreal, Canada.
The Rays have always struggled with getting a consistent following and Major League Baseball and the Rays management staff believe this idea could potentially allow the Rays to stay in Florida. The team has their lease at Tropicana Field until 2027 and they are working already to get a plan in place for when that time comes.
Overall, the plan could work if the right pieces are in place. Unfortunately with the COVID situation floating around and borders not being consistently open, that could be a huge deterrent from the plan. There are other options that the Rays could look at in the long term for the benefit of their franchise.
Rays Build Permanent Home in Tampa
All in all, this franchise has been in Florida since 1998. They have seen a total of seven playoff appearances and two World Series appearances as well. The Rays have been able to find success, even in one of the toughest divisions in baseball and with a limited budget.
One aspect that the Rays could potentially put in place to help the franchise is to find a stable home in Tampa. Tampa Bay has quickly risen to the ranks of the city of champions with the Lightning winning back-to-back Stanley Cups and the Buccaneers winning a Super Bowl.
Recently, the franchise has looked at various locations throughout Tampa. One of the biggest players is a location in Ybor City. This piece of land would be in the historical district of Tampa and place the Rays in a central location for all Tampa area fans to attend games.
With their current home being away from the city, fans are more comfortable sitting at home, saving money, and watching the game on the television.
The Tampa Bay Rays need to find a permanent off-field solution for their franchise. Their on-field performance has improved each season and is becoming a standard in the MLB. Whether that is a well-thought-out and executed plan to play a half and half season or a permanent home in Tampa, the Rays need to find a solution for their long-term success if they want to stay in the Tampa Bay Area.