Ask Gary: Paying the price to watch the Bucs play

by Gary Shelton on February 25, 2017 · 10 comments

in general

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

For the past two seasons, the Bucs have increased the cost of season tickets.  The least expensive tickets have increased from $30 per game to $45 per game, an increase of 50 percent during this two-year period.  On the other hand, some of the most expensive seats at the stadium have increased, little, or not at all, and in fact some of the stadium club seat ticket prices have gone down.  Why are the Glazers putting most of this ticket price increase on the backs of the ‘Joe Sixpack’ folks?  Why not distribute the load equally across all of the season ticket holder base?

Scott Myers

It's hard to tell a rich man's plan to get richer, but I'd suspect it has something to do with this:  The Glazers make most of their attendance money from the suites, and as such, they probably don't want to risk the anger of those fans. The "Joe Sixpack guys," as you call them, are more likely to go to one game, or three.'

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Just a guess. But I'd ask if the possible losses would be greater if the team increased its ticket prices.

A story: When I covered the Dolphins, I did a story that Joe Robbie was the first guy in the NFL whose ticket average was more than $20 a game. That was considered outrageous back in 1985. But 32 years later, and you have to take out a loan to get into the game. You can barely park for twenty bucks. And forget bottled water.

When you consider the heat, the concession prices, the bathroom lines, it's a wonder that any fans can go to the games. Especially now that all games are on television.

My wife's family and I used to go in together for season tickets, but we got out when there was no promise to cap escalating prices in the coming years.

I figured this out then. The Glazers, in the end, will end up with all of our money. So the lower seats took the hit this time. Maybe the higher-priced seats get it next time. Hey, someone has to pay for Doug Martin, right?

Going back to myth and ancient cultures, mankind has been fascinated by physical feats of skill and strength — from the Gods to the Greek Olympians and the Roman gladiators to Paul Bunyan. Long ago I expect outstanding skill and strength meant survival for the individual and for the clan, a vital concern, but that was changing thousands of years ago, when outstanding strategy, innovation, organization, and associated mental skills and abilities became, and are today, much more important to society than an individual’s physical ability. So why the continued adoration for individuals whose absolutely only talent is the ability to do some physical feat better than the masses?

Cecil DeBald

Cecil, we admire feats of speed and strength. It's why we made up stories about Hercules and Achilles. If you think about it, what else is Tom Brady but a modern-version of Romulus?

It isn't just athletics, though. We make celebrities out of pretty little singers who dance and lip-synch. We make stars out of the Kardashians. We make presidents out of Donald Trump. I love Jerry Seinfeld's routine on winning awards acting like other people. "He acted like him better than she acted like her."

Most of us realize that if we wanted to admire someone worthy of our adoration, it would be a teacher or a policeman or a surgeon. I've always said that professional athletes was a con game, and we all play. Most of these guys couldn't care less which city they play for, or which fans cheer for them.

But does the idea that someone can throw a baseball very, very fast mean the guy is an instant multimillionaire. Look at the list of highest-paid athletics, and I'll bet that you haven't heard of 10 percent of them.

Now that auto racing is revving up, the usual question emerges:  Are race drivers truly  "athletes?" How do you define an "athlete?" When I watch golf, I ask myself the same question about golfers {especially when I see John Daly play).
Barry McDowell
Barry, you've touched on my favorite discussion. I remember my first Olympics, back in Barcelona, there were these tents in the media village. The happy tents, we called them. And there, we argued into the night what made an athlete and what made a sport.
For instance, a ballet dancer does a very athletic endeavor. But it isn't a sport. A trapeze artist or a circus performance is athletic, but without a scoreboard, it isn't a sport.
A friend of mine used to say that anything you can do smoking a cigar wasn't a sport. It was his attack on golf. But I've lost enough golf balls over the year to attest to the difficulty of attempting it, so I count golfers as athletes.
Is a jockey? Sure, there is some strength involved, but most of them are small men or women, and the horses do most of the work. So I'm less inclined.
Then you go to race car driving, where an driver can compete into his 50s. Obviously, there is a great skill involved. But is it athletic?
In the end, the decisions are personal ones. Are dancers athletes? Is the Marching Band a team? How about poker players? Chess players? Monopoly players?
My personal definition? There has to be a competition, a winner and a loser. Some degree of speed or strength has to be involved. If someone sweats, it should help.
Otherwise, you're just playing checkers.
How do the Rays look this year? Any major changes for good or bad?
Nick Houllis
It's hard to tell before the preseason games begin, but I think the Rays have a chance to be better by a dozen games or so this year. I don't think that gets them in the hunt, however. I think they can get to the .500 neighborhood (12 more wins would be 80 wins) if the pitching holds up.
I haven't seen Brad Miller at second yet, and I haven't seen Colby Rasmus. But I still wonder if these players are athletic enough to take the extra base, to make the defensive play in the hole. I think they'll hit better if they stay healthy.
In the end, it's hard to say that this team finishes in the post-season, which is what we all want. I wish I could see a scenario where they get there, but I can't.
Do you think that the criticism of Jameis Winston's school remarks was justified. Or overkill?
Jim Willson
I wrote about this for Friday, Jim. I see it as a young man making a clumsy statement. That's all. He didn't insult anyone, he didn't swear. He just wasn't as inclusive as he should have been, and he's apologized for it.
The phrase I used Friday was that Winston needed to be chided but not hammered. He was at the school for a noble purpose. We want our athletes to make a difference in the community. A misstatement shouldn't guide us away from that. If Winston could wake up again that morning, would you have him go to Melrose or not? Of course you would.
I didn't have a problem with anyone who suggested that Winston needed to choose his words more carefully. He does. Remember, he just turned 23. How polished of a public speaker were you at 23? He'll get smoother.
But the problem I did have was the media outlets who dredged up the sexual assault accusations while he was at FSU. Remember, he was never charged. Making a language error speaking to a group of kids is hardly the same thing, is it?
It does show you how the world works, though. Winston is one headline away from the old allegations coming back.
Do you think that Ben Bishop will still be here at the end of next week?
Jim Willson
I do. For one thing, I think the Lightning would be giving up on their season if they dealt Bishop. Also, we don't know  how much the Lightning can get for Bishop, or else he'd be gone already.
If you're Steve Yzerman, your choice is this: Are this year's playoffs worth what you can get for Bishop? If it's a strong defenseman and a high draft pick, maybe you take a chance with Andrei Vasilevskiy. But teams don't give up strong defensemen or high draft picks.
So you do swallow hard and throw your chances on Bishop's back? Maybe.
What is your opinion of the Rays' three-headed management team (Silverman, Bloom and Neander). Who has the final say when there is disagreement?

Jim Willson

First of all, lets don't get hung up on titles. Most front offices have three or four guys who discuss talent all of the time. That's not new. Only the labels are.

I met Neander the other day, and I liked him. He strikes you as a bit young, but I remember thinking that about Andrew Friedman, too.

At this point, I would imagine that Silverman still has the tie-breaking vote. He has seniority, after all.

I would imagine for most decisions, the three would be able to work it out. The team has its analytic charts, after all. It can look at them and say "Okay, we can't get Chris Carter. Who wants to bring back Logan Morrison?"  It has a pay scale, so trading a Logan Forsythe wouldn't be that hard a consensus to built. It has draft grades, so how to spend this year's pick won't be that hard.

The question is this: Friedman had a real knack for making a deal. Do any of these three have the same knack? Can someone be special here? Anyone?

When the Lightning are winning it’s usually because Ben Bishop is in net and playing at a high level. When they lose either Bishop is off his game or he’s not playing. Isn’t it time the Lightning face up to the fact that Ben Bishop is the best goalie they have ever had and is the key to their success? Isn’t it absolutely imperative for Steve Yzerman to figure out a way to fit him under the salary cap and sign him to a long-term deal even though other key players will have to go?

Larry Beller

Bishop has been hot lately; Vasilevskiy has not. You're right. Bishop is the last chance this team has of making the playoffs which is kind of the point to a hockey season.

The problem with the Lightning, of course, is money. After signing Stamkos, Hedman, Killorn and others last year, the question is whether Bishop can be saved. He's going to want a very large mound of money.

It's one think if you're talking about moving Valtteri Filppula and Braydon Coburn. But I don't think Vasilevskiy has hushed all the arguments about who the goalie of the future is.

For now, I'd certainly rather trust Bishop if I can find a way to afford him.






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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller February 26, 2017 at 11:33 am

I think Yzerman needs to let this season play out and then decide about Bishop and other moves. It’s doubtful anything significant will or should happen before the trading deadline. Yzerman says he doesn’t want to blow it up and only wants to tweak the team and that’s ok for now but if they don’t make a late surge and miss the playoffs he needs to consider making major moves. I don’t think trading Stamkos should automatically be off the table. As you said the team needs some bigger forwards who will be more physical and must fill the defensive holes. The Lightning are too easy to play against on most nights. Too many guys are comfortable playing the finesse game and that’s good enough to be a playoff team.


Larry Beller February 26, 2017 at 11:37 am

Not good enough for a playoff team is what I meant to say.


Gary Shelton February 26, 2017 at 12:13 pm

I’ve always said this. Trading ANYONE depends on who is offered in return. In my opinion, it’s silly to go out to try to trade Stamkos without knowing that. Remember, you’re talking about a team that has been in the final two and the final four the last two years. Miss the playoffs or not, that’s a pretty impressive three-year run.


Larry Beller February 26, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Obviously the return will need to be substantial if Stamkos is going to be moved. And I don’t advocate moving him unless they get the right player or package in return. Remember for much of the playoffs he has been hurt or ineffective. The 3-year run is impressive but how do they get over the top and win a Cup? Is there any reason to think this group of players will do it without adding significant pieces? It’s how those pieces are added that will determine if improvement to the overall quality of the team is achieved.Years ago the Red Wings had a great skill team that routinely got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs due to lack of toughness that the playoffs style of play demands. The GM went out and got some big, tough forwards and the team won multiple Cups. Yzerman is very familiar with that scenario as he was on those teams and the Lightning is in a similar position in my opinion. Significant changes must be made and I believe Yzerman will make them. If not this off season then the next.


Larry Beller February 26, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Gary, Before you and I could decide if Bishop should go Yzerman made the deal so it’s a moot point now. I’m not surprised. Just hope it was the right decision.


Gary Shelton February 26, 2017 at 8:09 pm

I certainly would have thought he’d fetch more.

Larry Beller February 25, 2017 at 8:10 am

The Lightning have a huge decision to make on Bishop. That’s for sure. I’ve felt all year that they can’t bring him back next year because like you said they spent big money on some other key guys and not wanting to lose Vasilevsky who is the goalie of the future. But as the season has gone on it just seems like Bishop, when he is on, is one of those players that makes a difference. Maybe more than anyone on the roster including Stamkos. The team has confidence they will win when he plays and that’s something that can’t be underestimated. I think they have to keep him even if it means losing Vasilevsky and another top player or 2. He’s that good and is a proven commodity. Vasilevsky though very talented, hasn’t shown he can carry the load as we know Bishop can. The decision has to be made now and based on the eye test Bishop wins hands down. Do you disagree?


Gary Shelton February 25, 2017 at 10:33 am

Not at all. But moving Bishop is series of decisions. Can the team absorb the money he wants? Is it ready to give up on Vasilevskiy as the goalie of the future? Who are these other “one or two guys?”

I know this: I trust Yzerman and Vinik about as much as anyone. They have to be asking the same questions, don’t they?


Larry Beller February 25, 2017 at 11:15 am

I’m sure they are. It seems as though that unless the course is changed by events between now and the end of the season that Bishop will be gone due to a lot of factors including the expansion draft and not being able to fit him under the cap without giving up a lot. I wish it wasn’t so but I don’t expect Bishop to be back. My argument for keeping him is that Bishop makes the Lightning great when he plays at the level we are used to seeing him. Take him away and I don’t know if we have a Stanley Cup caliber team here. Now there have been a number of games this year when he has not played at that level which makes the decision even harder. I trust Yzerman too so however it comes down we just have to think the course they choose will work out for the best.


Gary Shelton February 25, 2017 at 12:48 pm

If we’re honest, it’s only lately that Bishop has looked like the old guy. He’s won 37 games a year the last three. This year, even with his late surge, he’s won only 16. So Yzerman also has to consider whether he wants Bishop for a longterm contract.

I’m not sure this is a Cup calibre team, either. I think there are holes in the defense, and the offense still doesn’t mix it up in front of the net as often as you’d like.


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