Interviewed by the Tampa Tribune


It is always a big deal for me when someone wants my opinion. Even though I have been writing about the Tampa Bay baseball market for almost two years and know the ins and outs better than most, I still have a niche audience. So to be quoted is a very good feeling.

Last week, Chris O’Donnell of the Tampa Tribune contacted me to get my opinion on several issues surrounding the Rays mid-season attendance.

The article ran on the front page of the Sunday edition.

Here are some the highlights (otherwise known as “the parts of the article I am mentioned in”):

The success of the Lightning likely drained the wallets of many Tampa Bay area sports fans, said Michael Lortz, freelance market analyst and author of the Tampa Bay Baseball Market blog.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup run meant their season didn’t end until June 15. Since then, the Rays’ average attendance has topped 15,000.

That run included a crowd of almost 24,000 for a Saturday game against the Boston Red Sox on June 27, the Rays’ biggest attendance since the opening day sellout.

Lortz said weekday attendance remains the Rays’ biggest challenge. Last month, weekday games averaged crowds of just 11,670.

Boosting those numbers will not be easy.

Most Rays games are televised on Sun Sports, giving fans a chance to watch from the comfort of their sofas. The team also is competing with local minor league baseball teams, including the Tampa Yankees, the Clearwater Threshers, the Dunedin Blue Jays and the Bradenton Marauders.

Combined, those teams draw about 4,000 fans to their home games, Lortz said.

He would like to see the Rays offer more promotions to stir up weekday interest. He cited discounted parking and gifts like the popular bobbleheads.

“There’s no reason parking at the Trop should be $20. That’s more than a ticket,” Lortz said. “To me, that makes no sense.”

The whole article is worth the read. Also quoted is author Peter Golenbock and the owner of Ferg’s Sports Bar, Mark Ferguson. Some I agree with, some I don’t.

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