Over the last few years, there has been a lot of talk about #TeamTampaBay, a marketing concept that unifies fans across all Tampa Bay sports. The Rays front office supports the Lightning, the Bucs, Storm, Rowdies, etc, and those teams support the others and every one gets along. Ideally, fans would see this cooperation and root for the local teams as a bloc as well.
Sounds good in theory.
We all know, however, that dollars are thin in small-market Tampa Bay. The Rays in particular suffer in attendance when the Lightning go deep into the playoffs. Despite being second fiddle this year, the Rays front office handled the situation gracefully. Publicly, they supported the Lightning and said all victories were victories for the area.
Everything is hunky-dory, right?
Except when it is not. Except when a Tampa Bay Lightning employee criticizes attendance for both the Rays and the Tampa Yankees.
According to his twitter bio and his LinkedIn, Matt Turner is the Digital Content Producer for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He writes for the Lightning website, creates GIFs, and probably does other forms of digital content producing. He joined the Lightning just before the playoffs and before last night never tweeted about the Rays.
Yes, the Rays struggle at the gate. They are often outdrawn by the Lightning overall and especially on weekdays. And the Tampa Yankees are not the best drawing Minor League team in the area either. Steinbrenner Field is built for Spring Training, so the Tampa Yankees usually only fill approximately 10-20% of the stadium.
These are facts. But baseball attendance is not Turner’s business nor should he comment about it, even if it is a poorly worded attempt at humor. Turner is an employee of another regional team. He should be rooting for other teams to be successful, both on the field and at the gate. Unless of course these teams are now baring their fangs, throwing out the #TeamTampaBay concept, admitting they cannibalize each other, and declaring open season on local dollars.
To be honest, I hate writing these kind of articles. I’ve gone after local media and out-of-town sports employees for unprofessional comments on Rays attendance. But I never thought I would ever have to call out an employee of another Tampa Bay sports team. If anything, these employees are the face of the local teams. Almost more so than the players. They should be the ultimate cheerleaders for the teams and the community.
I’m also usually a huge fan of the Lightning digital and social marketing team. They are great and have been widely regarded as one of the best in the business. But I guess certain employees need to realize commenting on the business results and marketing efforts of other teams in the area is not being a good member of #TeamTampaBay.
Or maybe Matt Turner needs to follow the steps of his boss before she leaves for her next opportunity.
(Update: Of course, Turner claimed it was a “joke”. He also deleted his tweet. Word of advice from someone who has done stand-up comedy: humor attacks upward. It takes the powerful down a peg. It does not attack the unfortunate, the struggling, or the downtrodden.)