The Tampa Bay Rays have won more division titles (2) in the last three years than the Boston Red Sox have won in the last 15 years (1). But if you are running a small-market team, the franchise you should try to imitate is the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers have built this team the right way, starting with a new stadium, in a location that has 68% of the metro population that is within a 30-minute drive. As a comparison, the Rays only have 19% of the metro population within 30 minutes of Tropicana Field.
But more importantly, by 2005, Milwaukee started to reap the benefits of their revenue producing stadium combined with a team that started winning. The result was a steady growth in attendance that has been in the top 12 in each of the last five years, and a team that is consistently competitive and able to add pieces like Zack Greinke and Francisco Rodriguez.
This is not to knock what the Rays have done. Many of their problems are built out of circumstances that are out of their control. But if the Rays are going to take in $30-35 million in revenue sharing each year and still cut the payroll more than 40 per cent to $42 million, it is not hard to see why attendance is down this season.
If the Rays are ever going to survive, they need to look north, and find a way to get a stadium closer to the people. And when that happens, maybe they will see a similar renaissance.
data via ESPN.com
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