For 10 years, Evan Longoria would be the face of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. But for the majority of his tenure, the Rays wouldn’t play good baseball. They wouldn’t win too often. But more than that, fans didn’t show up. And, they still aren’t showing up. In fact, they’ve been dead last for the last six full seasons of Major League Baseball. And while this season currently sees them in 28th, it doesn’t matter. Not enough people in the area care.
Therefore, Longoria believes their best bet might be to move. Speaking to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times Thursday, Longoria didn’t hold back.
“Honestly, and this is maybe not something I should say, but my gut tells me that the best decision might be to move the team.”
However, he does have a reason for saying this.
“I say that only because I look at the example of the Miami Marlins, and (a new stadium) didn’t really solve their attendance issues. So from purely an attendance standpoint, somewhere else might be better. It pains me to say that, but players want to play in a place where you have consistent support. It’s a selfish thing to say probably as a player, but, I don’t know, does anyone really want to play in front of 10,000 a night? I don’t know. I’m glad I won’t have to hear the backlash again this time.”
And he knows there are plenty of die-hard Rays fans. But there simply aren’t enough of them.
“There are a lot of dedicated Rays fans … and obviously it would be a shame for those people to lose the team. But you just hope there is consistent fan support, and it historically hasn’t been there. I don’t know that it’s the easiest case to lobby to build a new stadium in the area. It’s not a slam dunk.”
That said, Longoria doesn’t believe the Rays need to move that far. He thinks they could just move across the street from Raymond James Stadium, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play.
“That would be the best thing, I think, just to make it in an easily accessible place where you know 30,000-40,000 people can get in and out easily because they do it for 80,000 at Raymond James already.”
Does Longoria have a point?