A Baseball Nightclub?For a baseball franchise that won the American League pennant and played in the World Series just two seasons ago, you would assume they could fill their stands on a Friday night. Then again, we are talking about the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 2009, the Tampa Bay Rays drew 1,874,962 fans to home games at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. That ranked them 23rd out of 30 franchises in Major League Baseball. That averages out 23,147 fans per game. Again, this was for a team that called themselves the defending American League champions.
According to Tampa Bay Online, the Rays' baseball executives are looking to increase attendance during Friday games by 5,000 to 10,000. Management hopes to turn Tropicana Field into a "baseball nightclub" on Fridays and create a party atmosphere. Granted, I have access to two professional teams - the Cubs and White Sox. Both teams offer a wide range of gimmicks to get fans to the ballpark and to keep them. Wrigley Field has myriad giveaways throughout the season and celebrities singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Oh yeah, and they have a ton of bars in the neighborhood, too. The White Sox have fireworks at night, half-price days, and even dog days, too.
So what promotions are the Rays planning to create this nightclub vibe? Indoor fireworks and t-shirts for female Rays fans that read, "I Heart Longoria." No, that's not Eva Longoria. Their third baseman is Evan Longoria. After the games, they will have concerts and allow fans to walk on the field. I'm not sure that's enough to get the casual fan to a Rays game in 2010, but we'll see. At least they are outdrawing their cross-state rivals the Florida Marlins. The Marlins ranked 29th out of 30 in attendance averaging 18,770 in 2009. That's a team that won two World Series titles (1997 and 2003).