After years of telling free agents they don’t have cash, the Tampa Bay Rays are hoping their fans follow suit. The team will reportedly go completely cashless at Tropicana Field in 2019, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
Fans will now have to use credit cards or Rays cards at the park, according to Topkin.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 25, 2019
The Rays are making the move in hopes to cut down on transaction times in the ballpark, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Fans who bring cash will be able to exchange it for $10 or $20 gift cards.
While many people own credit or debit cards in 2019, the move will impact plenty of fans who prefer to use cash or do not have a credit card. The solution isn’t as simple as telling certain fans to “get with the times,” either.
History might ultimately look at the Rays as being ahead of the curve on this — it’s a progressive idea for our modern times, for sure — but it’s also fair to wonder if it’s practical for the Rays and their community.
The move could have a major impact on young baseball fans who are old enough to attend games on their own, but too young to own a credit card.
The move also has implications for lower-income Rays fans. Seven percent of Americans don’t have checking accounts often due to the fees associated with maintaining those accounts, according to a 2016 article by The Atlantic. Combine that with the team’s decision to remove seating from the upper deck of Tropicana Field earlier in the offseason, and it has become significantly more difficult for those fans to attend Rays games.
Attendance has been a major issue for the Rays in recent seasons. It’s gotten bad enough that former and current Rays players have commented on the empty seats in the park. The team ranked 29th in average attendance in 2018, and has ranked dead last in average attendance from 2017 to 2012, according to ESPN.
After the changes made by the team this offseason, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to get any better in 2019.
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