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From scalper ban to free parking, St. Petersburg readies for World Series

Scalpers won't be at the Trop for World Series.

That's a change, because scalpers normally can sell tickets in an approved area on the west side of the stadium along 16th Street. But at the request of Major League Baseball, scalping won't be allowed during the games tonight and Thursday on all Tropicana Field property, including the parking lots, Rays officials said.

Tampa Bay, Philly mayors make bet: In the race for the World Series, Tampa Bay leaders have won sausages and chips from Chicago and lobster and cream pie from Boston. Now, local leaders are hungry for Philly cheesesteaks. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio announced a food challenge with Philadelphia's Mayor Michael A. Nutter. If the Rays lose the World Series, he gets a Florida beach picnic that includes coconut shrimp from Cha Cha Coconuts at the Pier, stone crab claws from Clearwater's Frenchy's restaurant, Cuban sandwiches from the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, commemorative championship label Cuesta-Rey Centro Fino Cortez Cigars from J.C. Newman Cigar Co. and key lime pie from Fourth Street Shrimp Store in St. Petersburg. If the Rays win, the mayors get Philadelphia cheesesteaks, Tastykakes, Philly soft pretzels, mac-n-cheese from Delilah's Southern Cafe and a Rocky statue.

Entertainment for Games 1, 2:MLB is bringing in some national acts for the first two games here. The Backstreet Boys will sing the national anthem at Game 1 tonight. The group has a local connection since Nick Carter is a Tampa native. Los Lonely Boys will perform the anthem in Game 2. Military personnel from the Tampa area will perform God Bless America in the seventh inning of both games. Throwing out the first pitch will be Pinellas County Commissioner Bob Stewart. Stewart was a St. Petersburg City Council member back on July 24, 1986, who voted with five others to build the stadium even when there was no team. Throwing out the pitch for the second game will be Gen. David Patraeus, who is scheduled to take over U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base and who was the top commander in Iraq.

Know your parking options: Believe it or not, free parking is available for the World Series. If you pack four or more people into your car, the Rays will let you park for free in the lots they operate surrounding the stadium. With less than four people, the charge is $20, double the regular season price. Get there early, the spots go fast. Another good option: Park somewhere downtown, such as the city's South Core parking garage at First Avenue S, just east of Second Street. Then catch the free Looper Trolley on Second Street between Central Avenue and First Avenue S. Plenty of property owners will charge you to park in their lots. Up to this point prices during postseason games have ranged from $10 to $30. But beware — sometimes people commandeer lots they don't actually own and charge drivers to park there.

Movers and shakers celebrate Rays: On a postcard-pretty evening, community leaders from throughout Tampa Bay convened at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg on Tuesday to celebrate the Rays. They gathered along the pool deck at the Vinoy, overlooking the waterfront, where lights colored the landmark Pier in Rays blue. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker was at the party. So was Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. And Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard. If you were looking for baseball luminaries, Rays president Matt Silverman was one of the most recognizable, along with founding owner and former managing general partner Vince Naimoli, who attended with his wife, Lenda, and her twin, Glenda Young. Rays senior adviser Dick Crippen was there, and Rays voice Dewayne Staats, with his wife, Carla. Community leaders who hoped to rub elbows with the Rays' David Price or the Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins had to realize that the players probably were under curfew. Food and drink were abundant and included sushi and pasta stations, Cuban sandwiches, conch fritters and oysters on the half shell. Hotel employees said the party, put on by MLB, came together with less than 24 hours' notice.

Pizza promise in Denver still good: When John Keiley offered in July to give away pizza if the Tampa Bay Rays won the World Series, people thought he was crazy.

Now he seems clairvoyant. And yes, with the Rays in the World Series, he's sticking to his word.

Keiley, 48, is the owner of Johnny's New York Pizza & Pasta shop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. He wrote on the window on July 7 that he would give away pizzas if the Rays won the World Series.

Why does he care about the Rays? He's a Mets fan who hates the Yankees and the Red Sox. And he admired the way the young Rays swept the Sox this season.

He's not surprised the Rays have come this far. Twice before he offered free pizza if a team beat the odds. Both times he paid up.

"I don't think it's just Joe Maddon and the organization," he said. "I think it has something to do with the window."

From scalper ban to free parking, St. Petersburg readies for World Series 10/21/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 3:20pm]

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