The Rays have finally unveiled all of their new changes with the uniforms and name change. The Rays front office is hoping to not only change the design of the uniforms, but also the design of the team and the Rays fan base. With all the hype surrounding the new team and the Rays front office wanting a new stadium, this is the most important off season for the Rays franchise.
The Rays showed great offensive promise all of the 2007 campaign and the pitching seemed to get better as the year went on. The Rays had fans excited at the end of the year and it showed at the unveiling of the new uniforms and team name. They had 7,000 people show up in the middle of football season at a park in St. Petersburg to watch a fashion show of Rays players. A couple years ago they may have gotten 700 for something like that.
With all of the changes it has come out in the newspapers that the Rays front office wants to build a new stadium where Al Lang field is now located. The Rays confirmed the report a couple nights ago that they are looking at a $450 million dollar ball park, but will only need about $60 million from the city to have it built. In order for the Rays to get the 60 million needed they will need the voters to turn out and vote for a tax raise to get the stadium built. The Rays stated in the paper today that they want the referendum voted on in November 2008. If the Rays want people to come out and vote, they need to give the fans a reason to be excited and want to vote for the stadium to be built.
For the Rays to get the fans to come out and vote they will need to get people excited and have a reason to want to get a new ball park built. This is the reason that this off season is so important for the Rays. Right now they have the momentum and excitement of the fan base, but if they do not address certain areas of the team and go into next season with the same basic team and do not spend money there will be problems. While fans really need to act like this is only the third year of the franchise they have lumped this organization in with the last and are tired of seeing losing baseball. Fans in the bay are long for a team that is .500 and at least a little competitive. If the Rays organization can make some moves and get this team to .500 by the end of next season I can guarantee that fans will come out and vote yeas for a new stadium. If they do nothing and the team continues the way it has the fans will just believe that it is the same old thing and leave the vote alone.
The Rays know what spots on this team they need to address for the team to be competitive; the bullpen and the starting rotation. There are some key free agents that are available to the Rays that can help both if these areas. The Rays can also address the areas in trade and have some offers out there. Whatever the Rays do they need to make sure they show the fans they are committed and if they do the fans will return the favor come November 2008.