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Rays have a fresh, creative marketing plan

Mar 16, 2010, 11:53 PM EDT

zztop-100316.jpgYou have to admire the Tampa Bay Rays. They are the little engine that could, the young kid who stood up to the neighborhood bullies of the AL East and delivered a few bloody noses on the way to the 2008 World Series.

But despite the team’s recent run of success, the Rays have had a hard time drawing fans to the Trop, averaging just more than 23,000 fans per game in 2009, which ranked 23rd out of the 30 teams.

In order to inspire the masses and convince them that watching baseball in a tomb is a good idea, the club has come up with an aggressive marketing plan that includes advertisements with snappy drum music, an official team drink (Raytini, anyone?) and much, much more.

Take it away, Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times:

Come to Tropicana Field, the pitch goes, and the Rays promise an afternoon or evening of fresh giveaways, creative T-shirts, teenager specific hangouts, local entertainment, post-game fireworks and some well known Saturday night concerts with bands that range from ZZ Top to The Go-Go’s.

I’m all for fresh giveaways, and nothing sounds more thrilling than a creative T-shirt, particularly if it comes launched from a fresh and creative T-shirt cannon. I’m even willing to brave the side effects of smoke inhalation — Raytini in hand — to take in an indoor fireworks show.

But I have a problem with the Rays’ choice of post-game musical entertainment. ZZ Top? The Go-Gos? Is that really the best they can do? Given that St. Petersburg is often referred to as “God’s waiting room,” I question the wisdom of booking such contemporary acts.

Pat Boone, who is apparently among the new wave of BALCO clients, would seem a better choice for the fan base. And he’s available

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  1. charles B - Mar 17, 2010 at 2:36 AM

    I think this is a attempt to get baseball fans to what is a town that has no interest in professional baseball. I lived in Tampa during the years prior to and after their magical run to the World Series. No one went to the games even thought the Rays were playing lights out baseball. The reasons:
    1) Old stadium that is not a true “baseball stadium”.
    2) The stadium is in St.Petersburgh, not Tampa. Its about a 25-30 minute ride to get to the games.
    3) There is nothing in or around St.Pete to draw fans to hanging out before or after games. St.Pete. is a very dangerous area.
    4) The Rays fans were burned by the old ownership and management.

  2. Old Gator - Mar 17, 2010 at 6:59 AM

    Now all they need is a venue without a mold hazard and a high rate of depression among its employees.

  3. Chuck Ramus - Mar 17, 2010 at 7:56 AM

    You build it they will come. 3 Words dummy…..Location, Location, Location. I-75 & I-4 Market serving Tampa, St. Pete, Orlando and the West Coast of Florida!

  4. Ray - Mar 17, 2010 at 8:22 AM

    I agree completely with Chuck. The fairground area would seem like the perfect location. You could draw from North of Tampa, Orlando, Sarasota and the Tampa – St Pete area. St. Pete needs to understand that they need to let them out of the lease or risk having the entire area lose the team.

  5. Matt - Mar 17, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    25 or 30 minutes to get to the game? You poor soul. Maybe if you ask nicely your mommy will take you to the game…
    This attitude is precisely why baseball won’t survive. Why waste time & money building a new stadium? I’m sure you & fellow “Tampa” residents will add a few more excuses to the list. You have a baseball team NOW. You need to support it NOW. Or else it will go bye bye, and then you will have NOTHING!.

  6. willmose - Mar 17, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    Rays have a tough time drawing because the games aren’t free. If Florida could figure out a way to get the tourists to pay for the natives to go to the games the Rays would draw 5 million. Perhaps the “Cub” tax in Arizona is the way to go. A “Rays” tax of $4 per on hotel/motel rooms and rental cars would probably do it.

  7. Old Gator - Mar 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    In an ideal world where it rains beer and the pretty girls are the easy ones, it might indeed be the responsibility of the customer to buy the product. However, out here in reality, it rains acid, the ugly ones are easy, and one of the harshest facts, along with the second law of thermodynamics, is that it’s the vendor’s responsibility to make the product attractive enough so that the customer will want to buy it.
    .
    Just ask Scrooge McLoria and his Chihuahua.

  8. Paul - Mar 17, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    ZZ Top?! I’d go see the game just to see them play! But Pat Boone?! The people who would come to the game to see him, can’t physically climb the stairs without tremendous risk of personal injury! Broken hip, anyone?

  9. BC - Mar 17, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    Get Linkin Park in there for a show, and I’ll consider going.

  10. jwb - Mar 17, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    The Go-Gos have not aged well and may not have played a show since last April.
    http://twitter.com/officialgogos

  11. Frank - Mar 17, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    “during the years prior to and after their magical run to the World Series … the Rays were playing lights out baseball.” Sure, worst record in the AL in ’06 and ’07.
    1. Have you ever been to a “true baseball stadium?” It can take 25-30 mins just to find somewhere to park once you’re there.
    2. Where do you live exactly? Maybe they can come play right in your backyard.
    3. Downtown St. Pete has several nice museums, bars, restaurants… just like Tampa without the nightly stabbings.
    4. Yes, but we’re now in the fifth year of new ownership, which has put one of the best teams in baseball on the field and kept the fan experience among the most affordable in all of pro sports.
    Wake up, Charles! There’s a great big real world out there, one in which nobody cares about the Lightning, the Gasparilla invasion is pretend, and nobody wants to drive all the way from Orlando just to see that huge confederate flag.

  12. Frank - Mar 17, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Oh yeah, and it’s “St. Petersburg” – there’s no H.

  13. marco73 - Mar 17, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    I think the Rays experience in St Pete is about the best that The Trop can offer. We usually get to 2 – 3 Saturday concerts each season. We are on the far side of Tampa from St Pete, and I don’t consider the drive difficult at all.
    I know some promoters are trying to sell building a Yankee stadium out by the fairgrounds, but the economics of such a move don’t make sense. Tampa/Hillsborough residents are already burdened with paying for Raymond James stadium for the Bucs. Trying to squeeze money out of the local taxpayers for a baseball stadium by the fairgrounds would be a very tough sell in these times.
    I think the ownership of the Rays will have to contend with Tropicana field if they are going to stay in this market.

  14. Rays fan - Mar 17, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    Many people do not like the Tropicana unique facility/squashed toadstool, and the miniblimp gives Gator panic attacks. However, it’s the bird-in-hand, & the traffic’s not bad (especially considering that the mass transit system’s not good). Ultimately, obviously, the owners will do what makes the most sense in their own interests in the long run.
    The Pat Boone fans only arrive after the first frost, so stick with the ZZ Top concerts!

  15. St Petersburg Resident - Mar 22, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    1) Old stadium that is not a true “baseball stadium”.
    –Although it may be true that it is not a “true” baseball stadium, it is not all that bad and it does provide many more ammenities to attract fans than many other parks do. And it is not an “end-all” to sit and watch baseball there, it truely isn’t that bad.
    2) The stadium is in St.Petersburgh, not Tampa. Its about a 25-30 minute ride to get to the games.
    –Spoken like a true Tampon… (yes, that’s what they are called, really!) There attitude if it is not in Tampa, it must not be worth going to. Parking at the stadium is not that bad, actually much more conveinent than many other baseball venues.
    3) There is nothing in or around St.Pete to draw fans to hanging out before or after games. St.Pete. is a very dangerous area.
    –St Pete is filled with things to do… clubs, bars, museums, one of the best intimate live-music venues in the country in Jannus Live (Jannus Landing) that get some of the same big names that Tampa gets. St Pete is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, close to the beaches and continuously gets recognized year after year with various rewards. This city has also given the Indy Racing Leagues one of their most successful venues and helped ensure their comeback in the world of racing. St. Petersburg is a very safe place, nothing says rape, stabbings, and shootings like Ybor in Tampa! How are their revitilizing efforts going over there in Tampa?
    4) The Rays fans were burned by the old ownership and management.
    –It happens all over in the sports world, unless you are one of the great dynasties that are already worth millions. It was a St. Pete group that stepped up to the plate to get a baseball team in the area, and it is the new St. Pete ownership handling the transition to the next level. Funny, the Tampa Mayor and City Board have said and continue to show no interest in viably exploring bringing the team to Tampa.

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