Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays, Part II

Some of you have sent me e-mails about the Rays article making the case for why Tampa Bay is not a good baseball town. Many of the same arguements could be made about baseball in Minnesota. The summer is too short to sit inside and watch baseball games (although that is being fixed for the 2010 season). But somehow, the Twins are able to compete for division titles year after year. The reason is that they have gotten really good at identifying and developing talent. The entire Twins roster has turned over twice since I've lived here and they are still more competitive than most Major League franchises.

I agree whole heartedly that there are significant business challenges in the Tampa market for professional sports. That is exactly why the marketing approach is so brilliant. It is their response to the unique challenges facing their team. It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. The Tampa Bay Ray problem requires different thinking. All too often we are tempted to apply an approach universally across many types of problems. Think about the US cable industry. It grew out of the West where it was difficult to reliably broadcast TV signals over the air over great distances. The answer to this problem came from smart thinkers and pioneers that lived in the market. Today, the entire cable industry is heavily shaped and influenced by those individuals. What would have happened if we asked someone from New York to solve that problem? I'm sure the result would have looked much different.

The same is true for professional sports franchises. No two markets are the same just as no two teams are the same. Personally, I'd like to see more of these innovative approaches because for every New York Yankees there are 10 Tampa Bay Rays.

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