Rays to give away 20,000 free tickets Wednesday
UPDATE, 7:20: To clarify, the 20,000 free tickets are being provided by the organization, team president Matt Silverman said. Some are saying/reporting they are being provided by Longoria and Price, which is not the case.
UPDATE, 7:16: Here are details of the free ticket offer for Wednesday:
* Distributed one per person on a first-come, first-served basis and given out upon entry into the ballpark starting at 4:45 (so they can't be picked up in advance).
* Tickets will be available in the press level, baseline box, loge box, outfield, upper box and upper reserved sections.
* Fans who bought tickets in any of those sections can exchanged them - at Guest Services upon arrival - for lower box seats, based on availability.
UPDATE, 5:38: Team president Matt Silverman said they are doing so in response to comments from several of their players, led by 3B Evan Longoria, to create a full-house atmosphere.
"It was something we had discussed, but I don't think we would have (done this without their comments), and it's not about the two players, it's about the sentiment expressed by the team throughout the year, the energy that they get from the fans when this place is full,'' Silverman said. "Two years ago when we clinched against Minnesota the players celebrated with the fans, it was a packed house, and it's that type of celebration of this season that we're looking for. You see it in the record - the players really respond to the energy and the noise and the excitement when the fans are in this place, and we're looking to do that tomorrow with these free tickets.''
Silverman said the team will provide the tickets in what is an unusual offer for a pro sports team. Asked how many of the 20,000 they expect to be claimed, Silverman said: "The fact that you're asking that question speaks to the challenges that we face. We don't know, and we'll see tomorrow. I'm hopeful that we'll have a packed house.''
The Rays are in a position to clinch a playoff berth tonight, and Silverman said they plan to celebrate on the field if they do, and then continue the celebration Wednesday in the final home regular season game. If they don't clinch a spot tonight, they would be in a position to do so again tomorrow, and with a full house.
The move is obviously very unusual for a pro sports team, and is a gesture aimed at the loud volumne of response Tuesday to comments by Longoria and LHP David Price, who called Monday's small crowd of 12,466 "embarassing.''
DEVELOPING: Rays will give away 20,000 free tickets to Wednesday game. Will be available at Trop starting at 4:45, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Gates will open then too. Other details to come.