The stadium news coming down today seems to be the logical course of action. This has seemed rushed from the beginning, trying to go from intial plans and presentation to having everything basically finalized within a year. That's a pretty short time considering the various approvals needed to go forward with it and the brief timeframe plays into the hands of groups like POWW using fear-mongering tactics to sway people to their side while presenting little in the way of actual facts. I'm also pleased on a personal level because this means that the heated stadium discussions will probably die down soon and this will cease to be a distraction to the great year the team on the field is having. It would be great to just enjoy the success the organization is finally having and not have anything else going on but instead we have this non-baseball stuff demanding lots of news time as well.
What I mainly wanted to bring up today though was the seemingly widespread perception (at least among Tampa residents) that having the stadium on that side of the bay would greatly increase attendance and that the stadium's current location is the reason the turnout is disappointing to some people (it isn't to me but that's a separate issue altogether). This is, in my opinion, bunk.
This school of thought operates off the theory that the inaccessability of the stadium (which isn't nearly as bad as they'd have you believe compared to the travel time for most major league parks anyway) is keeping people away because it's too difficult for them to get out and support the team, but having it in Tampa would make things all rosy. Why the heck should we believe this? For one thing, from what I've heard from people who live in Tampa and see the amount of fans heading back over the bridges after games, there isn't a massive disparity in Hillsborough vs. Pinellas attendance. That strongly suggests that Hillsborough residents are going but, just like Pinellas/Manatee residents, aren't going in as large of numbers as we'd like to see.
Beyond that, why should anyone expect that Tampa residents will show up in massive support? The Buccaneers didn't exactly draw wonderful crowds before they were good, in fact their games were horribly attended except for when other teams fans filled the place (sound familiar?). Would a really bad baseball team have done any better over there? Not likely, in fact I'm sure it wouldn't have been any better in an amount worth noting. So why should we make the assumption that a really bad franchise that is suddenly good would get supported very well in Tampa but not in St. Petersburg? Does the entire area love a winner, ignore a loser, but only in Tampa do they like a loser becoming a winner? What kind of logic is this? It has been pointed out repeatedly by myself and others but I'll say it again. Baseball attendance increases don't happen overnight, especially not for a team that has never had a shred of success in its entire history and was abysmally marketed prior to 2006. It takes more than a month or even three months of good play to really make attendance boom and even later in the season you don't see the effects like you will in the following year. To try to pin the lagging attendance on the stadium's location is a very weak argument that seems to be made more out of the desire to have the team play in Tampa than out of real facts and reasonable assumptions.