Evan Longoria suggests Rays should leave Tampa Bay
In the wake of Tampa Bay’s battle for a new stadium, one prominent former Ray believes that the team may be better off taking their business elsewhere.
Speaking with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times in an interview on Thursday, San Francisco Giants third baseman Evan Longoria said that the Rays may be better off leaving Tampa Bay.
“Honestly, and this is maybe not something I should say, but my gut tells me that the best decision might be to move the team,” said Longoria. “I say that only because I look at the example of the Miami Marlins, and [a new stadium] didn’t really solve their attendance issues. So from purely an attendance standpoint, somewhere else might be better.
“It pains me to say that, but players want to play in a place where you have consistent support,” he added. “It’s a selfish thing to say probably as a player, but, I don’t know, does anyone really want to play in front of 10,000 a night?”
Longoria, 32, spent the first ten seasons of his career in Tampa Bay and made three All-Star teams there on top of winning three Gold Glove Awards. But he was traded to the Giants last December in a fairly unceremonious departure.
“There are a lot of dedicated Rays fans … and obviously it’d be a shame for those people to lose the team,” he added. “But you just hope there’s consistent fan support, and it historically hasn’t been there. I don’t know that it’s the easiest case to lobby to build a new stadium in the area. It’s not a slam dunk.”
Indeed, the Rays, who were established as a team in 1998, have finished dead last in the MLB in average attendance for six straight seasons and counting from 2012 to 2017. While they have “improved” to 28th in the league so far this season, every single year since ESPN started tracking attendance in 2001 has seen them end up in the bottom-ten. As for Longoria, this is not the first time that he has spoken critically about his ex-team since being traded either.