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If Rays clinch, party will go on at airport, but St. Petersburg won't throw it

ST. PETERSBURG — If the Tampa Bay Rays win the American League East this weekend, there will be a celebration at the airport where the team returns Sunday night.

But a spokeswoman for St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport was upset on Friday when she read a brief in the St. Petersburg Times that said the city of St. Petersburg was planning the fete and that it was to be held on the tarmac.

"The city of St. Petersburg isn't holding a celebration at our airport," said spokeswoman Michele Routh. "There is no party on the tarmac."

Mayor Bill Foster told the Times last week that if the Rays clinched, the city would throw an airport celebration. "We will meet them on the tarmac," he said.

On Thursday, city spokesman Robert Danielson confirmed that the city was planning a celebration at the airport if the Rays clinched.

But Routh said this was false.

So is there a party?

Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said the club is planning a celebration at the airport if the Rays win the division. If the club doesn't win, the Rays will fly directly to Minnesota on Sunday night.

"It is something we are hosting for our fans," Vaughn said of the possible celebration. "It will likely be something similar to 2008, but we don't want to go into detail until if and when we clinch."

What would the party be like?

"In 2008, there were about 2,000 folks who came for the event," Routh said. They didn't have it on the tarmac, she said, but in the baggage claim area. That's probably where it would be held again, Routh said.

City spokeswoman Beth Herendeen clarified on Friday that the Rays would be throwing the celebration and the city would be supporting them. When asked how the city would be helping, Vaughn replied in an e-mail that "the city has no involvement."

When asked Friday about how the city would help the Rays celebrate a division championship on Sunday, Foster said he didn't know.

"I'm not sure what our participation is because it is on airport property, which is outside the city and is governed by a different jurisdiction," Foster said. "That's nothing that I can help them with. If (the Rays) want us to do an e-mail blast or market it, we will do that. But I'm not aware that they'd need any city participation."

If Rays clinch, party will go on at airport, but St. Petersburg won't throw it 10/01/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 1, 2010 11:03pm]

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