Don’t Come Around Here No More

The following is a guest post by long-lost and much-beloved contributor, Dylan.

The 2013 fan experience for any sport is like no other that we have seen before. 20 years ago, and even 10 years ago, the act of going to a game beat out the experience of watching it on TV at home any day of the week. Nowadays, I can’t help but wonder why someone would want to leave their house to attend a sporting event. (Unless, of course, that game is a windy spring training game with crew.)

At home, I can keep up with my fantasy roster, stream the game to my iPhone if I need to take a nature break, and pay less than $10 for a beer. Gone are the days of kids begging Dad to drive an hour into the city so that they can get a glimpse of the players they read about or heard radio announcers applaud. This is the 21st Century!!! No longer is a guys’ night out held at the game, but rather a local sports bar that has a TV the size of a wall. Ownerships need to ask themselves what would draw someone back in for the fan experience.

Two teams that equally need new stadiums are the Tampa Bay Rays (obvious) and the Boston Red Sox (gasp!).

The Tampa Bay Rays need a new stadium more than any team in any sport at any point in history. This is a team that, love ’em or hate ’em, has performed very well the past five years and has a marketable cast of players and a unique and popular manager, along with a seemingly intelligent ownership group. So why can’t this team break out of the bottom third of MLB fan popularity and stop having attendance in the gutter year after year?

The stadium.

An absurd contract with the City of St. Pete has the Rays staying in the Trop until what I believe is the year 2095, but I’m not too good at contractual facts. The City of St. Petersburg commissioners are making every attempt to hold the Rays hostage to their contract, and by doing so are slowly eroding away at any chance the Rays have at climbing out of the attendance cellar. Last time I checked, the dukes and duchesses of St. Pete will not let the Rays ownership speak with Hillsborough County officials. If the Tampa Bay region wants to be part of the baseball world, then talks need to open up across the bay in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Rays need to be in Downtown Tampa. Tampa has seen a revitalization of sorts, with the Seminole Heights District attracting the middle-aged hipster crowd to its 1920s houses, and Cigar City Brewing helping build a Portland-esque artisan crowd. The Rays ownership could capitalize on the renaissance that Tampa is experiencing by placing the team smack in the city, along the water and near the business of downtown that so desperately needs an attraction within reach. A downtown stadium with a view of the bay would celebrate the waterfront that Florida is known for, could spark a new crop of bars and restaurants in a downtown that is a ghost town after 5pm, and could once and for all start a freshening up of inner-city Tampa that has been forgotten to the ugly urban sprawl outward.

Now, to the more controversial topic. The Red Sox need to get out of Fenway!!! In 1998, I too got caught in the hype of Saving Fenway Park when talks first began about tearing it down and building a new stadium. I hated the idea and I couldn’t stand to see Fenway go. Memories were there for me and always will be. The first time someone walks up the ramp and sees the bright green grass and dark green walls, and feels the intimacy of Fenway, it gives goose bumps. The amazing thing about that feeling is it never goes away. No matter the amount of times someone walks into that stadium, the feeling is there. But what I think tied so many to that stadium was the shared feelings of hurt and letdown that bonded all of New England together. Blame it on the blue-collar spirit of Boston, but pre-2007 (no, not 2004), Red Sox fans knew there was unfinished business and couldn’t let the stadium go away until the job was done.

The Red Sox HAD to win the World Series while playing out of Fenway. It wouldn’t have been right if done otherwise, and they had to do it twice. 2004 may have broke the curse, but 2007 cemented the Red Sox atop the heap in baseball. ’07 proved that ’04 wasn’t a fluke and the Red Sox were to be taken seriously. I wrote a piece about how after 2007 I felt different as a Red Sox fan. At the time I thought the piece was a little ridiculous, but looking back I think I was spot on. The Red Sox did change after 2007. No longer was this “the idiots” or the days of reverse the curse. Boston was all of the sudden a town of winners, that for decades had been lovable losers. The persona that so many Red Sox fans, and to some extent, I think, the players took on was over. Things really did change in 2007.

Now, in 2013, the team is coming off a terrible year and the image of the Sox has gone from the lovable idiots that wouldn’t give up in 2004 to spoiled grown men that eat chicken and drink beer. This is why Fenway needs to go. The era of the Curse is over. The story of 2004 will live on forever but it’s time for the Red Sox to build a new image, a cleaner image, one that celebrates what Boston is now and embraces a new era. A move out of Fenway could mean a new stadium on the waterfront by either Pier 4 or Long Wharf. A new stadium that could incorporate the North End, Fanueil Hall, the waterfront, and the growing pop-culture popularity of South Boston. Red Sox fans don’t need to look toward a past filled with curses and a broke-down stadium anymore, it’s time to celebrate the team, and to a greater extent, the City of Boston.

27 Responses to “Don’t Come Around Here No More”

  1. 2012 fantasy baseball champion Says:

    Finally! Someone who understands! I have been preaching to everyone for years that the contract holding the Rays to Tropicana Field until 2027 is an absolute joke! That stadium has been outdated since nearly the day it opened, and it became horribly outdated the day the Metrodome closed down. I truly believe that we could at least double our fan output if we moved the team out of Tropicana Field, and I think it should be the city of Tampa.

    Look at the Lightning’s attendence this season, its way up there! And who likes hockey? That’s because its alot closer to the majority of the population of the Tampa Bay area. That’s right, I said TAMPA BAY AREA. Not Tampa, and not St Pete. I am a St Pete resident through and through. Born and raised here, and I live 10 minutes from Tropicana Field. But its time for a move. The residents of St Petersburg have proven over and over again, that they cannot support a major league baseball team. Its time to give Tampa an oppurtunity.

    But unfortunetely, that’s not going to happen as long as Bill Foster is the mayor of St Pete.

    Like Dylan said, time and time again the city of St Petersburg and its officials have taken every chance they can to shut down the Rays efforts for a new stadium. Oh they will support a new one, as long as its near the same crappy location that led to the attendence problems in the first place. Bill Foster doesn’t care about baseball, he cares about losing what little money the Rays bring to the city of St Pete.

    You see he thinks Tampa is the enemy. Instead of seeing the Rays move to Tampa, where they may thrive, he would rather them move to Portland Oregon, and the REGION would lose its baseball team all together. This stadium situation will not be resolved, until the people who run St Pete pull there heads out of there asses and see that the Rays are important to the COMMUNITY, and mean alot more to people then a silly contract that can bring the city a little money.

    I fear we are going to lose our beloved baseball team in the very near future. And as much as I love baseball with every fiber of my being, and I have a incredible passion for the game, I could not go on without my Rays. If my Rays leave, my passion for baseball goes with it.

    As for the Sox, while I agree with everything Dylan said about the Rays, I STRONGLY disagree with his stance on Fenway Park. I understand times are changing, and things with the Red Sox are very different since 2004, but to me anyway, Fenway Park IS the Red Sox. It defines them, it makes them who they are. You may gain a fresh start with a new stadium, but you risk losing your identity!

    Red Sox fans once strongly PRIDED themselves on being the anti Yankees! Being the “good” alternetive! Do you really wanna throw all that way for a shiny new stadium? With no tradition or feel to it whatsoever? Thats what the Yankees did!

    – What about Ted Williams hitting a home run in his final at bat?

    – What about Carlton Fisk waving his home run fair in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series? The most iconic image maybe in baseball history?

    – What about the impossible dream of 1967? All those summer nights where the Sox defied the odds and Yaz was marching toward the last triple crown until 2012?

    – What about Ted Williams finally tipping his cap in the 1999 All Star game? And Pedro Martinez mowing down the entire juiced up National League lineup an hour later?

    – What about the epic 9th inning comeback against New York in July 2004?

    – What about David Ortiz heroics in games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS, to keep hope alive?

    – Hell, what about Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays? Coming back from a 7-0 deficit to win 8-7 and complete the greatest comeback ever in a game where a team faced elimination?

    ALL these moments are legendary, and part of baseball lore. I beg of you, please dont pull a Yankee, EMBRACE your roots. Dont throw all these legendary baseball moments down the drain. I want to go to Fenway Park someday, and tell my grandchildren all about it!

    This post was excellent Dylan, well thought out with all the facts. Im sorry my response was SO long, but if you stayed with me this entire time, I appriciate it. I hope you write more for the site in the future. Great job!

    – Dan

  2. Dave Says:

    Well…. That was an impressive response! Well thought out and stated perfectly. Good stuff

  3. 2012 fantasy baseball champion Says:

    We do what we can. If you guys are taking the time to write this stuff, we are going to give our strong well thought out opinions. We want to make it worth your while so its fun when you write and you’ll keep doing it!

  4. BDog Says:

    I can’t imagine MLB without Fenway Park. I don’t really agree with the Red Sox getting a new stadium. I think it would be back for the game.

  5. Dave Says:

    Fenway is beautiful, iconic, and a great baseball experience. I’ve always enjoyed going there, and thought that it really was the ultimate ballpark. These thoughts changed last year, when I went to Coors Field. I was overwhelmed by how beautiful it was. The field, the architecture, the location, the people.. Were all wonderful. It got me thinking that maybe Fenway was in need of a change of location. I’m all for tradition & history, but if Boston could provide the experience that they have in Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, Pittsburgh.. I’m all for it

  6. Dylan Says:

    I knew my thoughts on Fenway would stir up some debate. Thanks for such a great Response Dan and everyone else. I agree with you Dan about the moments that have made Fenway what is. I certainly don’t want to see Fenway torn down. The field itself is a museum and should be treated as one. But, the thing about Fenway is that it’s old, outdated, and in my opinion in the wrong part of town. I think that this year is starting a new chapter in Red Sox history. As I said before we broke the curse in 04, proved it wasn’t a fluke in 07, and remained somewhat competitive after that up until last year. Now, the era is over. This is a new Red Sox franchise and one that deserves to shake off the ghosts of the past and appreciate them for what they are, but to also needs to make new traditions in a new stadium….in my opinion….
    Dave hit the nail on the head about Coors field. Imagine a new Red Sox stadium along the water that celebrates what Boston is now, I get excited just thinking about it.

    As far as the Rays go, c’mon Tampa Bay!!!!!!

  7. allan Says:

    Well, I guess I’ll chime in too! Over time, we all need a little bit of change. Fenway Park is a VERY Historic ballpark, some think it may be on the top of the list. But, with all the great memories we’ve seen over the years, we’ve also seen some bad memories as well.

    Memories that Red Sox fans would like to just go away. Drinking beer in the clubhouse during games, eating chicken and just screwing around while you team is struggling on the field. They showed absolutely NO respect for the game,the team and most important….the fans.

    The Red Sox building a new stadium could bring new life to an organization in need of healing. Sometimes the best medicine is change. Everytime a player walks into the locke room, they’ll think of what happened last year, especially if they begin to slump.

    To every other fan, moving from Fenway sounds insane, but we didn’t have to go through the BS. It’s always easy to talk about what you would do, when your not going through it.

    As far as the rays go, if your a true fan, you’ll make the drive here. Watching your team isn’t about where your sitting or how the stadium looks. There aren’t too many bad memories in that ball park. Outside of the days of Vinny Castillo and Quinten McCracken. Lol

    Rays fans are always talking bad about the sox and Yankees, but all of a sudden they want to move. This location isn’t good enough. It seemed to be great years ago, when you were getting a cheaper price on it. The rays didn’t care about a new stadium until they started becoming winners. The city of Tampa wasn’t calling the Devil Rays. All of a sudden, the city of Tampa can make even more money off of something, so they want it. ST. PETE had to go through the bs and heartbreak of watching losers for years, while sitting in a crappy stadium and Tampa gets the goods?.

    Maybe nobody in St. Pete want to go to games for the same reason people in Tampa don’t. What if we’d like to sit here in a beautiful stadium with all the bells and whistles.. You move the stadium to Tampa, and all the people in St. Pete who live in walking distance of the stadium now are unable to watch their team.

    Move to Tampa, once the rays start losing, the fans will bail. Just like they did to the lightning and bucs. Lighting are selling out, but they’re also playing really productive hockey. The Tampa bay area is bandwagon country for sports.

    Once the team sucks, everyone is headed to Busch Gardens or to Ybor City. I’ve seen it happen before, it will happen again.

  8. allan Says:

    Everyone seems to buy there playoff tickets, when that time of the year comes. The ride doesn’t get shorter in October either. Just saying.

  9. 2012 fantasy baseball champion Says:

    See Allan I just see that kind of attitude from everyone.. “Tampa vs St Petersburg”. Why cant it be the entire regions team? The way it was intended when the “Tampa Bay” Devil Rays were created? That’s my vision. And yes St Pete went through all the BS, but there not supporting them NOW when there is no BS. I just dont think St Petersburg has earned the right to keep the Rays. I think Tampa should get the oppurtunity. We blew it.

    I still dont agree with the idea of moving the Red Sox out of Fenway Park. I think it would be an absolute travesty. The Red Sox BELONG in Fenway Park! They always have, they always will! Do they really need the revenue and the all the bells and whistles of a new stadium when they are already among the richest teams in sports??

    And not just rich in terms of funds. The Red Sox have a RICH tradition! Many memories through the years. If you move out of Fenway, you’ll just be another big market team with money.

    Don’t throw all the years of tradition and baseball lore down the drain.

  10. Dave Says:

    8 minutes into the radio show and Allan gives a shout out! Thanks Allan

  11. 2012 fantasy baseball champion Says:

    He hasnt said who the champion is! Ridiculous!

    Dave you should call in!

  12. Dave Says:

    Nice job on the radio show guys! You two really sounded like you know what you’re talking about.

  13. 2012 fantasy baseball champion Says:

    I just wish I could’ve got my 60 seconds to respond to your point about the Braves! I had a response all cooked up but we ran out of time! Bummer

    Awesome that you called into the show Dave

  14. Dave Says:

    That was really fun hour! It went by really fast…Ginger and I were listening, you sounded good!

  15. 2012 fantasy baseball champion Says:

    I tried to sound as professional as I could. Never done something like that before. I was nervous at first but I think I hit my stride

  16. Dave Says:

    You nailed it.. Nice job
    That was the first time I’ve ever called into a radio show. I got nervous as soon as he answered, and started babbling like dn idiot…lol! It was fun’

  17. 2012 fantasy baseball champion Says:

    Allan has taken a risk and is going to call of next tuesday to head down to Port Charlotte with me and Mike… You gotta be there Dave! Foulline day at the ballpark

  18. allan Says:

    I was nervous lol.

    Try being the damn host…

  19. Dave Says:

    Sounds good to me! I’ll work on it.

  20. 2012 fantasy baseball champion Says:

    We need to make it happen for sure… Tuesday we would go to the game, and that would give Allan plenty to talk about on the show later that night!

  21. 2012 fantasy baseball champion Says:

    Best line from the show last night?

    “You know that great league you were talking about? I just wanted to throw out that I am the defending champion… For those who didnt know”.

    Pure gold!

  22. Dave Says:

    I enjoyed all talk last night… Good stuff!

  23. 2012 fantasy baseball champion Says:

    Nick Swisher: Gone

    Russell Martin: Gone

    Derek Jeter: Questionable

    Mariano Rivera: Questionable

    Curtis Granderson: Out 2 months

    Mark Teixera: Out 2 and half months

    A Rod: Out forever

    Forget making a playoff run… Will the Yankees win 75 games?

  24. allan Says:

    I almost hung up on Dan, after that cxomment. lol

  25. BDog Says:

    When is your show? I’ll listen

  26. allan Says:

    Yaysports:Real Talk Radio, Tuesday Nights @ 10PM.

    Come LIKE the page on Facebook to get the Link & listen to podcast.

    Your more then welcome, to voice your thoughts and opinions on sports topics.
    Tell your friends!

  27. sportsmanMike Says:

    Just made it back into town from key west so i’ll give a couple quick comments

    allan I heard your coming to port charlotte with me and dan. Thats great its alot of fun

    dave be cool if you could make it

    YES on the rays new ballpark. The trop sucks

    NO on the red sox leaving fenway. I went to fenway in 2010 and it was an amazing experience. Loved every second of it.

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