Deep concerns over declining attendance is not only limited to Citi Field this season for the Mets. The community of Port St. Lucie, where the Mets make their Spring Training home, have some abiding concerns about the team, attendance and revenue themselves.
Ray McNulty of TC Palm says the Mets are nothing-special, and they have done far too little this offseason to give long-suffering Mets fans any real hope for the 2013 season and even less reason to get excited about the next few weeks in Florida.
Will the promise of beautiful weather — accompanied by the blind-faith required to root unfailingly for an also-ran team on the National League side of New York — be enough to overcome an impossible-to-ignore lack of buzz about the Mets these past few months and entice their frustrated fans to flock to our community for the annual rite of spring?
I’m having my doubts. Now more than ever… The Mets are coming off their fourth consecutive losing season and fourth straight fourth-place finish in the NL East, where they’ve finished 23, 18, 25 and 24 games behind the division champions during that sorry span… The recently re-signed David Wright and too-often-injured Johan Santana are the only recognizable faces remaining on the Mets’ roster.
The Mets have a longstanding relationship with the St. Lucie community ever since transplanting their operations there from St. Petersburg in 1988. Each year, the community becomes a go-to destination come spring-time as fans flock to catch a glimpse of the players, both old and new, as well as the team’s top prospects. They do this while contributing millions to their hotel, travel, dining and entertainment industries.
McNulty is concerned over the way the team is perceived and that it may affect the Mets’ Grapefruit League attendance, particularly those fans who make the trek down from the New York area. He doesn’t believe this latest offseason does much to revive a community that has become financially dependent on the team.
It’s a time to look at the lineup, see how much is still missing and wonder why the Mets have wasted another winter — one that offers no cause for optimism that the coming season will be noticeably better than what we saw last summer, despite anything you might’ve heard from general manager Sandy Alderson about being in the chase.
Think about it: Other than trading Dickey, the Mets’ biggest offseason headlines have been spawned by a debate over whether they’ll need to, or should, surrender their first-round pick in this year’s draft if they sign All-Star free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn. Meanwhile, the outfield is a mystery. The bullpen is filled with nobodies. The rotation lost its most dependable starter. And the Mets’ equipment trucks ceremoniously departed Citi Field for Florida on Monday.
He urges fans to come down to St. Lucie anyway – the weather is beautiful and at least the sun is always shining.
It was a somewhat harsh rebuke and unnecessarily over the top in my opinion. However, I wonder if it’s a fair indication of the sentiment from the community that the Mets call home for two months of the year?
I also wonder if there is some resentment here over the whole Digital Domain debacle that I’m told led to many people losing their jobs last year.