Other than the New Orleans Saints getting thumped by the Cleveland Browns, the most disturbing thing I saw Sunday was the numbers on the “crowd’’ at Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium.
We knew in advance the game with St. Louis wasn’t going to be sold out and would be blacked out on local television. But the actual number was shockingly low. The Bucs said they sold 42,020 tickets. According to the Tampa Sports Authority that runs the stadium, the actual number of people who came through the turnstiles was 36,008.
Bash the Bucs for a dismal 2009 season all you want. But they’re doing their part now. They’re winning and they’re playing some exciting games. Their staff also ran an aggressive marketing campaign to sell tickets in the offseason.
But that has added up to hugely disappointing numbers. After selling out every game since the stadium’s opening in 1998, the Bucs haven’t sold out a home game this season.
I know the economy is rough, Florida is full of transplants that still follow the teams in their old hometowns and the St. Louis Rams aren’t exactly a big draw. But, when a team is 4-2 and playing in one of the best stadiums in the league, shouldn’t it be drawing more than 36,000 people?