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STILL A RAY OF HOPE? NAIMOLI DISAPPOINTED WITH TAMPA CROWDS
Published June 1, 1998
Devil Rays Managing General Partner Vince Naimoli said Friday that attendance at Tropicana Field "is running well below projections and could impact the team's ability to eventually compete for a championship," according to Joe Henderson of the TAMPA TRIBUNE. Through Friday, the Devil Rays were averaging 31,455 a game, and Naimoli said that the team had "projected an average of about" 36,000 a game. Naimoli had "remained optimistic" despite low early season numbers, but said Friday that "frustration is starting to get to him as the numbers haven't significantly improved." Thursday's crowd of 27,017 for the Mariners was "particularly galling" to Naimoli, since it was the Devil Rays' first home game in two weeks, and the Mariners are a one very popular team. Naimoli: "I'm very, very surprised and very, very disappointed" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/30). IS THE MARKET THERE? In Tampa, Martin Fennelly wrote that the Devil Rays' sellout streak "began and ended on Opening Day." Fennelly: "By all standards of expansion fever, the Rays have been running cold. Even the Marlins drew three million fans their first season. Weren't we supposed to be a better market?" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/30).