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The Scarlet Letter

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There is something strange going on in Tampa Bay. There is a menace roaming the streets, washing up on the beaches, and it’s not a Monkey or Tar Balls. It seems like I can't go a day without hearing about it, without it jumping out and laughing in our faces. The major media markets are quick to remind us of it every chance they get. It adds pain to our losses and saps all the joy out of the victories.

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The scarlet letter in Tampa Bay is not Adultery, its Attendance.

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First the Rays, and now the Bucs.

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The Rays attendance problems were supposed to be fixed when they won. They are a half game out of first in the toughest division in baseball, tonight Cy Young candidates CC Sabathia and David Price face off with first place on the line, yet tickets are still available.

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Next they say a move to Tampa would correct the problem. Hey, Stu, why don't you run that by the Glazers and see what they think about that? Raymond James Stadium is considered by many to be the perfect spot for a sports venue, right in the heart of our population; yet on Sunday it failed to come close to a sell out.

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Sunday marked the first local black out of a Buccaneers game since 1997. The numbers at the stadium were not promising. Paid attendance of 47,211, actual turnstile attendance of 41,544. That’s over 24,000 empty seats.

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Of course the answer again will be to win, and I think that yesterday’s victory will go along way towards increasing the crowd. But all you have to do is look across the bay at the Trop and wonder, even if the Buc’s come home from Carolina 2-0, will it really help?

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Is there something fundamentally wrong with Tampa Bay as a sports market?

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.