As opening day approaches, great expectations for Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays begin their 13th year in existence Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field at 7:10 p.m., and there are great expectations that the Rays, owners of the best record in spring training, will be able to duplicate, if not exceed their sensational American League championship season of 2008.

But will the fans come in numbers expected of a team with such promise? (They finally sold out the season opener on Monday).

That's a big question that will be reviewed all year long, with critics (especially those who live north of the Howard Frankland) insisting that attendance would undoubtedly be boosted if the ballpark was located in Hillsborough County.

Though the Rays actually did increase their attendance last year (by 3.5%) while on average attendance was down due to the recession, they still ranked just 23rd out of the 30 MLB teams in average attendance.