Forbes Online Blog Predicts Rays Will Be Gone by 2014

A look from inside Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
A look from inside Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
TAMPA (2011-4-4) -

The Tampa Bay Rays are just three games into a 162-game season, but already rumors about the team’s viability are flying with more velocity than a David Price fastball.

The Sports Money blog for Forbes online magazine predicts that Major League Baseball will “contract” or essentially eliminate the Rays franchise within the next three years because of poor fan support.

Forbes editor Mike Ozanian doesn’t name his “sources.” Instead, he drops hints. He writes in the blog “...High-revenue team owners tell me the Rays are a dead brand commercially that needs to be pulled from life support. I could not agree more.”

Many expected a ground swell of attendance after the new ownership fielded a winning team and kept ticket prices low. But, the Rays averaged just under 23,000 for the 2010 season attendance. It wasn’t the worst in MLB, but it was only 22nd out of 30 teams despite the Rays winning the American East Division.

The good news is that Rays TV viewership increased dramatically, 70 percent, last year, which does not fit Ozanian’s “dead brand” label. Yet, when that was pointed out in a blog comment, Ozanian shot back, “...ratings indeed were up but Fox gets almost all the benefits.”

Owner Stuart Sternberg is working to get a replacement for Tropicana Field which many blame for the slow ticket sales in part because of its location. Yet, the City of St. Petersburg is showing little flexibility and instead wants to hold the Rays to their contract at the “Trop” or staying inside city limits until 2027.

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