The good news is that nearly 53,000 fans saw the Devil Rays’ opening two games of the season against the Baltimore Orioles. The bad news is that less than 13,000 of them were on hand for the second game. Reality set in that fast.
The first night sellout was, in large part, a visceral response to all that has been done right by new ownership – from sprucing up the Trop, to overhauling attitudes to initiating free parking. (Last year’s opening night attendance was a paltry 26,000.)
The second night was a stark reminder. Banishing the ghosts of Naimolis past is not nearly enough. Nor should it be.
Lifestyle-wise, there’s a lot to compete with indoor baseball around here. And (the skewed) spring-training tradition notwithstanding, going out to (or into) the ballpark in the summer is not embedded into the local culture. This isn’t Pittsburgh, Cincinnati or St. Louis – let alone New York, Chicago, Philadelphia or Boston.
What it will take for a real Rays’ revival is what it took for Bucs’ and Lightning success. Proof positive that winning can be an expectation – not a bonus.
Now about that pitching staff