A Mickey Mouse Idea

When the Arizona Diamondbacks were awarded as a franchise on March 9, 1995 they were not alone. They were one of two franchises the other one being the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Since that moment these two organizations have been connected and probably will remain so for the their entire existence. The two teams took very different approaches to building their teams. The Devil Rays had an existing stadium, Tropicana Field, and chose to build the team using their farm system. The Diamondbacks on the other hand chose to build a team partly with young players but the majority of the team would be made up of veteran players with a 5 year plan to become a contender. This strategy paid off as the Diamondbacks reached the play-offs in just their second year and won a world championship in just their fourth season. The Devil Rays on the other hand have never had a winning record since joining the American League East ten years ago. Going on a decade of losing has been a painful process and has taken its toll on the Rays fans. As a result Tampa Bay is now in a position where they are trying to build a larger fan base.


One of the changes the Devil Rays are attempting is to become a more regional presence in central Florida. To that end they petitioned Major League Baseball to play a 3 game home series in Orlando. Orlando is roughly 90 miles north east from St. Petersburg so it does make sense. The problem is that Orlando really doesn’t have a Major League facility. What they do have is the Spring Training facilities for the Atlanta Braves at Disney’s Wild World of Sports with a capacity of 9,500. So for three games the Devil Rays will host the Texas Rangers at the home of Mickey Mouse. Attendance of 9,500 would actually be ahead of what they would expect at Tropicana Field and it should be easy to get a sell out. Well on paper it should be easy.

The first game of this series was played last night with quite a few empty seats seen in the stands. Attendance was announced as 8,443 meaning the stadium was only at 89 percent capacity. The fans at the game saw a great game with the “home” team winning in extra innings with a walk-off home run by Brendan Harris. No word on whether Mickey was asked to throw out the first pitch although Tampa Bay mascot Raymond did sport a pair of mouse ears during the game. Given the size of the crowd maybe instead of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” they should think about singing “It’s a Small World” during the seventh inning stretch.


2 Comments

  1. andre

    I guess 89% is better than 34%

  2. Disney was berry, berry good to the Devil Rays as they swept the Rangers. They never did sell out a game though so I am not sure how successful this experiment was.

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