Evan Longoria: Does anyone want to play in front of 10,000 a night?

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Giants infielder Evan Longoria, who left Tampa Bayin a trade to San Francisco in December, says the Rays would probably be better off leaving Tampa Bay, too.

Longoria, 32, was the longest-tenured player in Rays history, spending all 10 of his big league seasons there. He left as the club's leader with 1,435 games, 261 home runs and 892 RBIs.

"Honestly, and this is maybe not something I should say, but my gut tells me that the best decision might be to move the team," Longoria told the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday. "I say that only because I look at the example of the Miami Marlins, and [a new stadium] didn't really solve their attendance issues. So from purely an attendance standpoint, somewhere else might be better.

"It pains me to say that, but players want to play in a place where you have consistent support. It's a selfish thing to say probably as a player, but I don't know, does anyone really want to play in front of 10,000 a night?"

Earlier this year, the Rays announced plans for a new ballpark in Tampa. The team has played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, across the bay from Tampa, since its inaugural season in 1998. Attendance at the Trop is traditionally among the worst in the major leagues. In 2017, the Rays had the lowest attendance in baseball, averaging 15,670 fans per home game.

"There are a lot of dedicated Rays fans ... and obviously it would be a shame for those people to lose the team. But you just hope there is consistent fan support, and it historically hasn't been there. I don't know that it's the easiest case to lobby to build a new stadium in the area. It's not a slam dunk," he said.

A potential new stadium faces many hurdles. The team and government and business leaders are still trying to figure out who would foot the bill for a new home.

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