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Free Tickets For Rays Fans Is A Bad Idea

After an announced crowd of 12,466 on Monday night, Tampa Bay Rays players Evan Longoria and David Price called the turnout “disheartening” and “embarrassing.”

Al Messerschmidt | Getty Images

So team president Matt Silverman decided to give away 20,000 free tickets to tonight’s regular season finale.

It’s a nice gesture, but I don’t think it’s good business.

The bottom line is, you should never ever give away your ticket for free when there are so many other things to give away.

Yes, I know that the Rays have clinched another playoff spot and if you win, not matter what your stadium looks like, you should be drawing a better crowd, but I don’t think the team and the players have tried all alternatives before essentially giving up and saying, “If we totally devalue our product, will you please come?” Trust me, petting the stingrays is cool, but it won’t get people into the ballpark.

So here are five things the Rays should have done instead:

1. Whatever it costs to buy 20,000 tickets from yourself, spend that money on free food and drink. That's a lot of free food and drink.

2. Sit the entire team down on the field and have fans come and get the autograph of whoever they want. Potentially provide a free baseball depending on the cost.

3. Bring in Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage — two Tampa natives — for a meet and greet with the fans. Anything from the WWE’s heyday sells.

4. Have a postgame concert with a popular B list star — there are a ton of artists who have a big following who will draw crowds and will cost less than $25,000.

5. America can’t resist free food. Invite OSI Restaurant Partners, which owns Roy’s, Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s & Carrabba’s Italian Grill, to cater a free sampling of all their restaurants for fans. The parent company is based in Tampa. No cost to the team and a great sampling opportunity for OSI.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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