In Cameron Crowe's 1992 movie Singles, Campbell Scott's character Steve Dunne plays a transportation engineer for the city of Seattle. As a 14-year-old nerd, I thought I had found my future career, even with Steve's utter failings at getting that monorail project...ahem...off the ground. (Damn you, Mayor Tom Skerritt!) Fast-forward sixteen years and I'm just a dumb baseball blogger, but I still am fascinated by transportation and traffic engineering. So when I read this incredibly meticulous analysis of the parking situation at the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' new ballpark, my first reaction was: "People go to Devil Rays' games?"
My second reaction, however, was: "This will all be for naught if the Devil Rays don't start winning some games." There's been Major League Baseball in
Tampa St. Petersburg for ten seasons and this team has yet to win more than 70 games. If this new stadium is indeed built, will they really need to find 14,000 parking spots in downtown St. Pete when they're barely drawing 17,000 fans per game? Granted, a lot of the blame goes to Tropicana Field, a cavernous warehouse that should only be used for rodeos and motocross. But if the Devil Rays were winning, people would still show up; people only started going back to that dump Fenway when the Red Sox started contending again.
Here's some of the St. Petersburg Times blogger's analysis:
The Rays are assuming, using 2005 parking and tickets sales, a rate of 2.9 people per car. In that scenario, the team believes it only needs around 12,000 spots. The "available" spaces are within 3/4 a mile of the proposed new stadium and inlcude 2,000 spaces at Tropicana Field. The analysis assumes those spaces will only be used for near-sellout games and ticket holders would use a shuttle to reach the field.
At their current level of success, they'd only need half those parking spots. Also, if I ever make it to St. Pete for a game, I'll punch the elderly if I have to take a shuttle to the ballpark.
I do endorse the new stadium design and think it will help the Devil Rays franchise contend. Still, this is the year they better hit that 80-win plateau. There's been a lot of chatter that Tampa Bay could overtake the Blue Jays for third place this season, but I'll take that one step further: the Devil Rays will challenge the Red Sox for second place. Yes, even with Troy Percival as the closer.