ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning have turned playoff watch parties into big events, with thousands showing up.
But Wednesday as the Rays return to the post season for the first time in six years, the team is not hosting its own official event.
“I’m not seeing the team capturing in the fan’s interest," said Michael Lortz.
Lortz is a big Rays fan, he even blogs about the good and bad of baseball in Tampa Bay.
He says what the team has done on the field is great.
But he questions the franchise’s commitment to marketing.
“What are they doing to get fans involved. You see these gigantic banners for the Lighting, the Bucs, even the Rowdies have some really good marketing in downtown St. Pete.”
Down Central Avenue we didn’t see any grand gestures for support as the Rays enter the playoffs.
No flags. No signs. No banners.
Meanwhile, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan says Rays leadership is pumped for the playoffs and keeping baseball here.
“As a Rays fan all season long they had dozens of watch parities so I still believe they are fully committed to Tampa and Hillsborough County.”
Hillsborough County is where Hagan would like to see the Rays relocate and even though the first attempt at getting a new stadium in Ybor City failed, he’s not giving up.
Fans like Lortz aren’t either.
“Carpe Diem. We seize the day. Just root for the team today. And let the front office business play out as it is," said Lortz.
There are watch parties at several bars and restaurants around Tampa Bay, even one at Charlotte Sports Park where the Rays play their spring training games in Port Charlotte.