The Club that Carl Built

I’m reproducing a comment I originally posted over at More Cowbell concerning the Ray’s idea to open Club Trop [jimrome.com].

On the surface this might look like a bad idea. But, as a displaced Red Sox fan, I’ll say that the Trop isn’t a bad place to watch a game once you are inside the stadium. Outside the stadium is an industrial-wasteland-parking lot-hell hole.

Look, Boston fans might not want to admit it, but not everyone who goes to a Red Sox game goes for what happens behind the stripes. Take my dad and his friends: twice a summer, they rent a bus, buy a keg of beer, pack a ridiculous amount of food, and drive up to the stadium (about an hour ride). They drink, they eat, they enter the stadium. They watch two innings of baseball. Three if Manny would-have-been up next inning. Then they hit Lansdowne Street. Hard.

Do all Red Sox fans follow this pattern? No. Most? No. But I would estimate that at least 5000 fans at every game are there for the “Fenway experience.” Realizing this, Fenway has started taking tickets at the top of Lansdowne Street and allowing fans to move inside and outside of the stadium (though I’m pretty sure this is just before the game begins). Once you leave the stadium, there’s about 50 bars ready to welcome your tired masses yearning to be inebriated.

Now ask yourself: could the Rays use 5000 casual fans a game? Yes. They could use 500 more casual fans a game. 5000 fpg X 80 games = 400,000 more fans a season. 400,000 fans X 15$ a head = 6 million dollars more revenue. And, hey, six million dollars is precisely the difference between what Carl Crawford makes now and what the Red Sox will pay him to patrol Fenway (albeit, not Lansdowne St.) next year.

The Rays have to provide something other than a meat packaging facility to people indifferent to baseball. It might not be the Cask and Flagon, but Club Trop (which I will forever refer to as the “Club that Carl Built” just to irk you) is a start toward creating an entertainment environment.

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