It’s A Regional Thing
I have been upset during the following year that the Tampa Bay Rays have rised to such heights in the Major League Baseball world, and the world still see Tampa Bay as a single city. It can get a bit unnerving to always have to defend the City of St. Petersburg as the town where the Rays plays, but the Tampa Bay community is it’s resident home.
All of the major sports team who have graced this region have used the regional name. None have been pinpointed to be named the Tampa Bucs, or Tampa Lightning. The old North American Soccer League Champs were called the Tampa Bay Rowdies, not the Tampa Rowdies. The Rowdies were also the first professional team in our area to use the regional name on a championship trophy when they won the NASL’s title in their 2nd season.
The Lightning is a great example of why using the Tampa Bay motif has worked well for a team. They first began play at the Florida State Fairgrounds, then moved to the Thunderdome (Tropicana Field) before moving to their current home, the St. Petersburg Times Forum in Tampa. If the team had kept the name based on their location city only, it would have had to change at least 3 times to designate a correct locale.
The Rays went on board with the respect for the region and decided to use the region as their entire demographic for baseball. Just becuase this area is a “hot bed” for Spring Training baseball, before the team was awarded, it was only a Class A destination for ballplayers on their way up the minor league scale.
The Tampa Bay region all have a personality of their own. Tampa Bay is considered the second largest hispanic community in the state of Florida, and it’s pride is revealed bautifully in Ybor City. The region has a bridge system that is considered a masterpeice on the world’s stage in the Skyway Bridge. Communities like Sarasota, with the Ringling Museum, and Clearwater where the Philadelphia Philles hold their Spring Training all add to the melting pot of the region.
For newspapers, radio and television to constantly pull the region down by calling them the “Tampa Rays”, or that we play in “Tampa” is an insult to everything we have tried to complish with all these other sports. Is it because these other teams are actually located in Tampa and if they mess up, it is still within the guidelines of a locale and not a geographic nightmare.
The Rays and the City of St. Petersburg have a huge rolling backdrop showing the team plays in St. Petersburg. The team has it well defined in the 2008 Media Guide and also in the promotional materials given out to fans during the years. The tickets do not have the city stated on the, but is that the next step to getting that respectability from the country.
Or can the City of St. Petersburg keep taking this hits by the media by not correcting themselves or obtaining the first credo of journalism..Accuracy. Is the action oif a few going to effect the works of many. You bet they do. The 3 second sound byte by Tim McCraver or Joe Buck can destroy an entire year of city promotion or community identity becuase they did not convey the correct town name.
If the media can tell you that the New England Patriots play in Foxboro, Mass., why can they not tell you that we play in St. Petersburg. It is not all about “little brother”, St Petersburg feeling totally inferior, it is about the civic pride I know I have for my town. Have you ever heard the Detroit Lions referred to as the Pontiac , Michigan Lions when they played there. No, but you knew the city they played in and also had the respect to call it correctly.
Maybe Matt Silverman needs to make up a secondary letter to the media. This time to instill a $ 1 dollar penalty anytime the city is not correctly identified on any kind of mideia from 2009 on. I think he could easily pay a few salaries with the money derived from that venture. Local DJ’s can’t even still get the name right, or will not even call them just the Rays.
People forget that before a few years ago, the largest crowd to ever watch a NHL playoff game was in the home of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Thunderdome was their home for many years, and I saw that contest against the Phildelphia Flyers. The commentators of that game on television got the locale correct, and that was over 15 years ago.
But during the MLB playoffs, the announcers selected to broadcast the post season on TBS and Fox could not be counted on to correctly name the community they were staying in for the series. Why is it that the world can not remember a simple name like St. Petersburg. Do we need to move to our sisiter city in Russia to get total recognition?
Nyet, we do not have to travel half the world to get respect. We just have to pound it into the media subconscious. But you would think a winning season and an incredible push to the World Series would tranform the city’s name onto the tips of their tongues.
I even have a friend, Jeff, who is also on the Rays Fan Wall of Fame with me who is a dynamic supporter of this team. He is known as the “sign guy” by many at the Trop., and he mentioned to me he thought of making up T-shirts during the years stating that fact we are the Tampa Bay Rays ” and not the “Tampa Rays”.
We have had personalities like Kool and the Gang, and M C HAmmer make those mistakes during concerts this year and you heard the crowd correct them immediately. But as Jeff was going to put on his T-shirts, “It’s a Regional Thing” either you get it, or you are clueless……….Which one are you?