The New York Yankees are not the only thing on the minds of Tampa Bay Rays players and coaches amid a tight pennant race.
As the teams enter into a crucial three-game series in St. Petersburg, attendance woes at Tropicana Field remain a hot topic amid a stadium dispute between Rays brass and the City of St. Petersburg.
The Rays are only a half-game back of the Yankees with 20 games to go, but manager Joe Maddon is concerned with attendance, telling the St. Petersburg Times it would be “very disappointing” if small crowds turn out for the series.
Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton told the Times he just hopes for more Rays fans in the stadium than Yankees followers.
The Rays are lucky it’s the Yankees coming to town this week in terms of attendance. Two Mondays ago, the Toronto Blue Jays came to town and the game drew an abysmal 12,000 fans.
Continued commentary on the viability of Tropicana Field comes as a battle emerged this summer when the Rays announced the team could not survive long-term in the facility. St. Petersburg officials bristled when the team said it would be looking for stadium sites outside the city, vowing to enforce a lease mandating the team play at Tropicana through 2027.
Rays officials have refused to comment on the stadium issue again until after the season, even when the sports blog Deadspin released what it claimed were leaked Rays financial documents showing the team turned profits in 2007 and 2008. Rays officials have refused to confirm or deny if the documents are authentic.