Downtown Partnership bringing fans to cheer on Rays in Cuba
Lots of jokes are made about Rays fans. They're apathetic. They prefer to watch the team on TV. Or, they don't exist.
Well, 40 die-hard Rays fans just forked over $3,500 a head on short notice to travel to Havana to see their squad take on the Cuban national team on March 22.
Major-league baseball hasn't officially confirmed the trip, but if a game happens (wink, wink), the Rays will have a cheering section.
St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership CEO Joni James said the partnership approached the Rays recently with the idea and a list of invitees was drawn up by the partnership, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the team. City council members and county comission members from Pinellas and Hillsborough counties were invited, but all passed.
Of course, many of them have already gone on previous trips and this one came together quickly. Invitations went out last week.
But if the politicians chose to stay at home, plenty of fans signed up.
The subsequent announcement that President Barack Obama will visit Cuba during the same time has "changed a lot of things on the ground." The Partnership has someone in Havana trying to secure hotel rooms.
The trip will include visits to La Esquina Caliente, an open-air gathering of Cuban baseball enthusiasts, and a visit to Colon Cemetery where many former Cuban major-league baseball players are buried, James said.
"This is about supporting the Rays," James said.