Orlando Devil Rays – Regular Season games to be held at Disney

Regular Season Games to be Held in Orlando 

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays annouced today they will be playing a 3-game set in May at the Disney Sport Complex in Orlando.

The Disney Ball park will hold only 13,000 when the Rangers visit in May.  This may be small for Major League standards but the Devil Rays are a poor draw in Tampa and the team thinks this will expand fan base rather than alienate Tampa and St.Pete’s fan base.  The team identifies the major problem in Tampa as playing indoors.  Florida teams both need retractable domes. 

We see in the past that teams that are adopted by other cities seem to fail.  Either the experiment does not work and is cancelled all together or the team moves away.  These games are more of a novelty than a real market test or as TB thinks “expansion of fan base”.  Below are some examples.

MLB

2003 -2004 The Expos split home games approx at 60-40 between Montreal and San Juan before moving to Washington.

1980-early 1990s – Mariners contemplated playing home games at Vancouver’s BC Place when attendance at the Kingdome was sparse.  Nothing came of this except for a few exhibition games.

1968-1969 – Chicago White Sox played several games each year in Milwaukee.  This stopped when the Brew Crew moved in for 1970.

1956-57 – Brooklyn Dodgers played some home games at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City.  Dodgers moved to LA for the 1958 season. 

NBA

2005-2006 Oklahoma/New Orleans Honets - Due to Hurricane damage team split games between Oklahoma and Baton Rouge, LA.  Team continues to split games this year with the future in either city in question.   

1980s-1990s  Boston Celtics played a half dozen games at Hartford for several years.  This stopped after a few years and all games were played at Boston.

1980s-1990s Washington/Captial/Baltimore Bullets split season between Washington and Baltimore, with more and more games played in Washington every year until all games were played in Washington.

1980s Kansas City/Omaha Kings – Team split games between the two cities, and were unable to make it in either city and moved to Sacramento.

1970s-1980s – Buffalo Braves – The Tor-Buff Braves played games in Toronto for several seasons.  Even with some good teams they were unable to survive and moved to San Diego and eventually became the second franchise in LA, the Clippers.

NFL

Late 1990s – The Oilers move out of Houston and to Memphis while a new stadium in Nashville was being built.  The two years in Memphis were a disaster as people knew the team was not staying.  The Oilers became the Titans and played at tiny Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville for one year before their new stadium was complete. 

1960s-1990s – The Green Bay Packers would play 3 games in Milwaukee every years.  County Stadium was not suitable for football and all games were played in Green Bay starting in the early 1990s.

NHL

Late 1990s – The Hartford Whalers move to Greensboro, North Carolina while a new arena was being built in Raleigh, NC.  Attendance and general interest was a disaster.  The team moved to Raleigh and their fortunes turned around.

1992-1993 The San Jose Sharks played home games in Daly City’s Cow Palace which is virtually in San Francisco.  The Sharks moved to San Jose after two years in the West Bay.

1979-1980 Hartford Whalers played in Springfield, MA when the roof collapsed in Hartford.

Early 1990s. – The league experimented with about 50 neutral site games every year.  Many smaller cities got to see NHL action but the ice, team facilities and press facilities were not up to NHL standards and were stopped after 2 years. 

 

There are many other examples of home teams playing in temporary cities or playing neutral site games in Mexico, Japan or Europe or in other cities.  If there are any other times a team has split home games please let me know, any league at any level.  Has it ever succeeded?

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One reply on “Orlando Devil Rays – Regular Season games to be held at Disney”
  1. says: Kman

    I think that the Rays in Orlando makes some sense. With little fan base, they might as well tour the team around the state, as it can at least help to create a small portion of a new fan base, which can translate into increased TV ratings, at the minimum.

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