Last Saturday, those reborn Tampa Bay Rays — America's team! — drew more than 30,000 fans to Tropicana Field for a night game against the Baltimore Orioles. For a notoriously haunted building, that crowd was downright Cecil B. DeMille-an. But the reason for this newsworthy surge in attendance was more than just wins and losses. Sure, for the first time in their history, the Rays are one of the best teams in the major leagues. But more than that, they have a crafty, cool marketing department. Saturday's victory was punctuated with a free show by none other than the Commodores! "She's mighty mighty!"
Lionel Richie's former band was the first in a string of postgame concerts that should jazz the joint this summer. Saturday, after the Rays take on the White Sox, Trace Adkins will lead a group singalong of Honky Tonk Badonkadonk. Future shows will include Kool & the Gang, MC Hammer and Loverboy. Okay, so that's not exactly the hottest lineup. But let me tell you this: On Aug. 2, when the Rays down the woeful Tigers and get that much closer to the playoffs, it's gonna feel mighty good singing along to LL Cool J and Mama Said Knock You Out. "Don't call it a comeback . . ."
The summer concerts are free with a game ticket; prices start at $9. Dates and performers (all games begin at 6:10 p.m except where noted) are Saturday (vs. White Sox), Trace Adkins; June 14 (vs. Marlins), Gilberto Santa Rosa; June 21 (vs. Astros), Kool & the Gang; July 5 (vs. Royals), Loverboy, 7:10 p.m.; July 19 (vs. Blue Jays), MC Hammer; and Aug. 2 (vs. Tigers), LL Cool J.
Call toll-free 1-888-326-7297 or go to www.tampabayrays.com.