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Rays in Sports Business Journal

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They key point, season tickets and revenue.

Even worse, an internal MLB document distributed to clubs in early April listing the number of 2008 tickets sold prior to Opening Day ranked the Rays in 29th place, ahead of only Florida and a very long way from any club ahead of them.

"We sold more than 50 percent of our total attendance this year after the season began," Silverman said. "That makes it very, very hard to put together a solid business plan. That’s a big thing we need to address."

The club’s 2008 payroll, $44 million and second lowest in the league (again ahead of only Florida), will rise beyond $50 million next season. That figure will still stress the club’s budget, though, even as the team is poised to go beyond 2 million in attendance in 2009.

All of this makes sense, and seems a bit less ambiguous than the Wall Street Journal article from last week. Simply put: selling season tickets allows for easier planning and guaranteed sustainable income, where as walk up tickets are heavy in variables that are some times out of the Rays control. The biggest perk of having a ton of season ticket holders, outside of the cash income, is the dependability of knowing that those seats are sold every night of the season. This is how teams like Texas and Baltimore, who seemingly had less people than most early season Rays games did, somehow still "outdrew" the Rays in attendance.