Posted on: January 25, 2010 9:13 pm

Not a Solution.

I read an article today hinting at the possibilty that the Rays will be relocating out of the Tampa Bay area. Apparently, someone is making a push for an Orlando, Florida baseball team. Apparently, Tampa and Miami , as well as the many Spring Training MLB teams, are not enough of an attraction for baseball enthusiasts. Despite the poor attendance of the  two time World Series Marlins and the World Series runner up Rays, Orlando feels that Florida has a strong local following for consistent baseball. The problem that no one seems to understand, is that there is no market in Florida for any "hometown" team. There IS NO hometown team! Florida is a great baseball market for out of state teams. Florida is considered the retirement state and often the climate brings down many young northerners. I myself have gone from Florida to California and back, and I have had three friends move to the very city I live in. Neither are Tampa Bay ANYTHING fans. Don't get me wrong, they like Tampa Bay and they root for them when "their team is not playing" but they are not going to be scooping up season tickets anytime soon. If the team is winning they may go to a few more games, but if things are a little tight they will cut back. If the team isn't playing so well, why show up to watch a stinker? They aren't 'their' team anyway, right? It took the Buccaneers nearly 25 years to get the loyal fan support and with the last playoff win coming in 2002, Bucs fans aren't exactly rushing to the gates. The Tampa Bay Rays organization came in with a great business plan and it (thus far) has worked their way on the field. Unfortunately, they didn't anticipate a terrible economy paired with a long drive, a tin can of a "ballpark", and transplant fans. It seems no one takes the time to consider that Florida is unlike ANY OTHER state in the sports market. Pittsburgh baseball fans don't show up because they haven't had a wining product in decades. Detroit football fans don't show up because their team has never even sniffed a Super Bowl appearance. The JACKSONVILLE Jaguars' fans are souring over a franchise that hasn't seen a Pro Bowl in thier existence. It's Florida. Come for the beaches, come for the weather, come for the low taxes. The Ray's are probably going to move at some point or another. It sounds like a general comment, but successful states, like Dallas, Washington, New York, and California have always had a good fan base. Of course, all these teams have multiple championships in various sports. Is it possible both go hand in hand? Yes, of course, but which comes first? I think consistent and prolonged success brings the fans and ultimately, keeps the fans interested. One Super Bowl, One World Series APPEARANCE, one Stanley Cup. Those are the Big Three American Team Sports. Our teams have been in existence for less than 40 years. It will take another 10 years and/or multiple championships for the Buccaneers to gain a diehard fan base. It will take longer for hocket and baseball fans. It is what it is and in reality, it's possible that sports slowly trickle out of Florida and into states with their own identity.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com