Is Tropicana Field ideal for baseball? Erm, no. Is it as horrible as some Rays fans claim? Well, because other Rays fans beg to differ.
See the bottom of this page for more details about that pull quote and why the stupidity issue is that real.
Is it located, as far as center of population, in the ideal part of metropolitan Tampa-St. Petersburg? No, but arguably neither are other stadiums like Busch in St. Louis.
Is its location geographically challenged? I've never been to Tampa-St. Pete, but I've been to the Bay Area plenty of times, and the Giants draw fans from the East Bay, San Jose, Marin County and more. Oh, while the Bay Area overall has good mass transit, BART does NOT go to either Marin County or San Jose. (It's headed to San Jose, but it's not there yet. And, it's not headed at all to Marin County/North Bay.) So, that's a bit of falsehood to claim that mass transit trumps all the Bay Area's geography issues, Rays fans.
If you're in San Jose and don't want to drive all the way to a Giants game, you still have to drive up to Daly City or wherever to catch BART. If you're in Napa or Sonoma, you have to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge into the city, and you probably figure you might as well drive to the game while you're at it.
And, Tampa Bay is no more convoluted than San Francisco Bay, and at 400 square miles, is no bigger than the smallest defined area of San Francisco Bay (excluding San Pablo and other sub-bays).
Otherwise? St. Louis and Cincinnati are both split by major rivers. St. Louis has light rail of moderate impact on the Missouri side only; I don't know if Cincy has light rail at all or just buses. Metro Seattle is made very vertical by Puget Sound, and I've not heard any special praises for its mass transit.
Besides, the sprawl and geographic convolution argument cuts both ways. There's surely St. Pete fans going to the Amalie, today's Lightning location, or the Raymond James for the Bucs. Yes, they may get more fans from the eastward, Lakeland all the way to Orlando, than the Rays. But, the Rays could potentially get more fans from Bradenton and points further south with their current location.
Is TSP a small baseball market? Noooooo.
It's not only a hair larger than mid-market metro St. Louis of my beloved Cardinals, per Wiki, it's larger than several other MLB sites.
1. Metro St. Louis
2. Metro Baltimore
3. Metro Denver
4. Metro Pittsburgh
5. Metro Cincinnati
6. Metro Cleveland
7. Metro Kansas City
8. Metro Milwaukee
As for attendance? It had about 2.5 million in its first year, according to Baseball-Reference. It fell a full million the next year, and has never broken 2 million since. Even in good times and a growing population base, it hasn't broken 1.8 million since 2010, so you can't blame all the attendance woes on the previous ownership group of Vince Naimoli; the team's not drawn a lot better, despite having a better product, under Stuart Sternberg.
Given that the Tampa Bay Lightning also played there, before their current location, and drew well there, while part of the problems might be location, and part of the problems might be a stadium not well designed for baseball, I simply reject the idea that those two issues are the sum total of why baseball doesn't draw well there.
Indeed, the Lightning drew about 20K a game there, and that's HOCKEY. And it was there in "poor sister" St. Pete. (The team draws even better in Tampa.) In other words, Rays fans, the hockey team outdrew most years of your baseball team, in the same location. And, year after year. Even when the expansion team didn't do that well right away.
As Rays fans getting more butt-hurt claim that I don't know what I'm talking about, or that I'm confusing the Lightning's current location and attendance with other things, you start to sound more and more like you're doing some special pleading.
No, I've never been there. But, I have plenty of statistics in hand. I've already covered attendance (and attendance vs. the Lightning), the reality of geography of Tampa Bay vs. San Francisco Bay, the reality of mass transit elsewhere and more.
And, to have some fans indicate I'm clueless, or that I'm getting things mixed up, or that I'm like George W. Bush invading Iraq and then clueless as to the fighting?
Sorry, but you're not winning your argument.
Meanwhile, back to that case at hand.
This gets back to something I've said before. Some areas, while they support some sports well, don't others. And maybe, Rays fans, South Florida (TSP, on true lines of longitude, is as close or closer to Miami than it is to Jacksonville, so I'm calling it South Florida) just isn't major league baseball territory.
St. Louis hasn't had an NBA team since the Hawks, with Sweet Lou Hudson and Lenny Wilkins, left 45 years ago. After the ABA Spirits, with Bad News Marvin Barnes, Moses Malone, Maurice Lucas and M.L. Carr, failed to make the NBA cut, it's never gotten a whiff of mention as a possible NBA expansion or relocation site.
The Rams and Raiders have been gone from Los Angeles for 20 years, and even with the Rams winning one Super Bowl and making a second, don't seem to be too missed.
That said, on the traffic and geography side, and why the Trop was built in St. Pete, I'm also beginning to suspect that part of this may be a unique regional issue, namely that Tampa-side people don't want to necessarily play so nice with St. Pete. To the degree that's involved, that's wholly your problem and stop blaming anybody or anything else.
Meanwhile, on to the business side.
Beyond that, on the St. Pete side? The current city council isn't the problem.
The one dumb enough to build a "spec" stadium without a guaranteed tenant is the dumb one. The current owner, knowing he'd bought a team occupying a spec stadium is a close second. Economic development directors who have brains will tell you (as multiple ones have told me before) that building a facility for speculative purposes, whether a sports facility, a small office park, a logistics facility (I've seen both of those built as spec buildings and sit vacant for years too) is one of the "best" ways to get yourself fired.
They're often built into pre-conceived ideas that are pretty inflexible, and because economic development corporations are adjuncts of local governments, they're also built on the cheap. The Trop "pleads guilty" on both counts.
Only other business angle I can think of off the top of my head is maybe Naimoli figured he'd be able to find a
Oh, and baseball fans? Beyond traffic, and on viewing experience, this can't be as bad as old Tiger Stadium, or current Wrigley, for that matter.
To be somewhat charitable, and honor emotions and other things, while still focusing on the facts, I'll concede that as much as 50 percent of this may be due to location and/or stadium.
But no more than that.
Rays fans, will you concede that the other 50 percent may be baseball support struggles?
I expect crickets, but if you want to do differently, you can.