MLB in FLA is DOA

This past week I managed to take in two baseball games at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and another contest in Ft. Lauderdale and I came away wondering, will we ever have major league baseball in Florida?

Yes, the Marlins have won two World Series, but Monday night with the team in first place and the very high profile Atlanta Braves in town there was a crowd of maybe 8,000 on hand. The night before I saw the Tampa Bay (don't call us the Devil) Rays host the New York Yankees and fewer than 20,000 were on hand. In both cases the attendance numbers are simply pathetic.

Marlins fans, such as they are have proven, like all other South Florida fans, that they are "event" driven. Give them a pennant race or post-season games and the place will be packed. Otherwise the indifference is palpable. The same can be said of those who follow the Hurricanes, Heat and Panthers. Only the Dolphins have what I would call a true fan base in South Florida, and even there legit sellouts are the exception, not the rule. Many are hoping that the new stadium would change that, but let's be realistic. The site of the old Orange Bowl is a terrible location and it doesn't change the mindset that day-to-day sports are best followed through the media rather than in person.

Over in Tampa it's a different situation. The Rays are constant losers who have little hope for the future as long as they have to compete in the American League Nuclear Division. The Rays are actually loaded with young talent and if they could hold on to it they could be a .500 club or better by next season. But by then Carl Crawford will probably be with the Red Sox and Scott Kazmir will be a Yankee.

The Rays are also pushing for a real stadium to replace the hideous Tupperware-like eyesore they play in now. At least their plan makes some sense, putting the new park near the bay on the site of old Al Lopez Field. However the Rays really need to be on the Tampa side of the bay to improve access for the majority of people in the region.

I love baseball and wish we have one great franchise in our state. Instead we have two mediocre ones. But that's okay, it's four months until college football resumes.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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