Former Tampa Bay Ray Even Longoria spoke to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times yesterday about a number of topics, but the first thing mentioned in Topkin’s column are Longoria’s views about the future of the Rays franchise.
The club is working on a new stadium in Tampa. The thinking is that getting them out of Tropicana Field and into a new ballpark — and getting them out of relative remote St. Petersburg and into Tampa proper — will fix their attendance and revenue woes.
Longoria is not so certain:
“Honestly, and this is maybe not something I should say, but my gut tells me that the best decision might be to move the team,” Evan Longoria said Thursday. “I say that only because I look at the example of the Miami Marlins, and (a new stadium) didn’t really solve their attendance issues. So from purely an attendance standpoint, somewhere else might be better.”
He says he would feel for the dedicated Rays fans if they lost their team, but he thinks it’s more important for a baseball team to play in front of bigger crowds. “[D]oes anyone really want to play in front of 10,000 a night?” Longoria asked rhetorically.
That probably won’t go over too well with Rays fans, but it’s the same sentiment we hear from a lot of players who leave less-supported teams to go play for well-supported teams like Longoria has done. It matters to players.