Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays fans react to possible move

ST. PETERSBURG — Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays offered mixed reactions Saturday on the idea of moving the team out of town.

A business group has suggested several possible stadium locations, including three in Hills­borough County. While the Rays and local politicians have downplayed the significance of the talks, most fans who weighed in at Rays FanFest say that the talks could foreshadow action.

Whether the team should move depended mostly — but not always — on where fans live.

"I don't see anything wrong with the Trop," said Ron Rotondo, 27, of Gulfport, who contends that Florida does not produce die-hard fans, period. "I remember what it was like after the lockout with the Lightning. The seats were empty."

But fans turned out for the Rays' playoff run culminating in the 2008 World Series, he noted. "It's not crossing the bridge. It's not the prices. If there's a winner here, people will come."

Fans from Hernando, Pasco and Sarasota counties also gave a thumbs-down on moving.

"I think it's stupid," said Tom Petrowitz, 51, who doesn't mind the 45-minute drive from New Port Richey. "They've got a nice facility here."

Van Dixon, 31, drove from North Port to 10 home games last season, often with his 12-year-old son, Sean.

"I feel if it's not broke, don't fix it," Dixon said.

Thomas Carey said he could see positives and negatives in a move.

"If the team wants to pay 100 percent, I'd say fine, go for it," said Carey, 40, a software engineer who lives in Fort Myers and works in Tampa.

"If we're going to pay 100 percent, I'd say, what's the benefit? Those dollars could better be used to promote schools, roads, infrastructure."

Mike and Gloria Zelazo live in Tampa but don't mind commuting for Rays games. They make a night of it, stopping for dinner on the way. Mike Zelazo, 51, a teacher at Riverview High School, said he wants whatever will keep the team in the Tampa Bay area.

On the team's discussions with Hillsborough business interests, Zelazo said, "I'm afraid they may be doing it as a bargaining tool down the line."

Several fans, including Zelazo, questioned the convenience of locating a stadium in downtown Tampa.

"Channelside may not be the best area," he said. "After Lightning games, we've been stuck in the parking garage for 20 minutes. (At Tropicana Field) I'm out of here in 10 minutes, max. And that's on a busy day."

St. Petersburg native Donald Brooks weighed in on the team's rumored interest in moving to Hillsborough as he watched fans trying to catch swirling Rays coupons inside a glass booth.

"It would be a shame," said Brooks, a 51-year-old St. Petersburg native.

"They've got hockey (in Hills­borough). They've got football there. This stadium is built for St. Petersburg."

Don Andrews, 58, also of St. Petersburg, had an idea to help the team.

"What could boost attendance?" said Andrews, a U.S. flag flying from his motorized scooter. "Stop shooting off about how bad the stadium is. That turns people off."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.

Rays fans react to possible move 02/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 1:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  2. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  4. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102
  5. Chemical industry insider now shapes EPA policy


    WASHINGTON — For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

    This is the Dow chemical plant near Freeport, Texas. Before the 2016 election, Dow had been in talks with the EPA to phase out the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is blamed for disabilities in children. Dow is no longer willing to compromise.