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Rays fans are divided on the issue of leaving Tropicana Field

Amanda Breslow, 31, and her husband Mark, 32, season ticket holders from Wesley Chapel, said they would like a stadium closer to home but mostly just want the Rays in the region.

LARA CERRI | Times

Amanda Breslow, 31, and her husband Mark, 32, season ticket holders from Wesley Chapel, said they would like a stadium closer to home but mostly just want the Rays in the region.

ST. PETERSBURG — When it comes to stadium issues, Earl Murray just wants the best deal for the Tampa Bay Rays.

But if the team moves to Tampa, the 82-year-old longtime season ticket holder said he'd have to make some changes.

"We wouldn't be season ticket holders," Murray said Wednesday before going into Tropicana Field to watch the Rays take on the San Diego Padres. "If they go to Tampa, include me out. … The people in Tampa feel the same way about coming here as the St. Petersburg people feel about going there."

The stadium debate heated up this week after the team announced Monday that it wants to pursue stadium sites outside downtown St. Petersburg. City leaders have balked and are assessing their next move.

Mark and Amanda Breslow of Wesley Chapel wouldn't mind having a stadium closer to home.

The couple said they love Tropicana Field. But for them, the thought of the Rays leaving the region is worse than the thought of the team abandoning St. Petersburg.

The couple said they understand both sides' position, and think it's time for the two sides to start talking with each other.

"It's Tampa Bay's asset," said Mark Breslow, a 32-year-old accountant.

Belinda Pfluger of Sarasota drives 45 minutes to get to Tropicana Field. She said she understands why the team wants a new stadium, but she likely would attend fewer games if the stadium were outside of Pinellas County.

"I think there should be some loyalty to the area," she said. "We don't want to be more than an hour away."

For Scott Boshek, talk of a new stadium comes down to one thing: a contract.

Boshek, 30, said he doesn't want to see the team leave St. Petersburg, but he doesn't want to see city leaders back down.

"(The Rays) better stay here, at least through 2027 when the contract is up," he said.

The issue didn't produce strong emotions from everyone.

Ryan Strittmatter and Ryan Hoffland said they make it to about three or four games a month from Brooksville.

Distance isn't an issue with them; they said it takes about an hour and a half each way. The young men said the Rays should be happy with the attendance they're drawing.

"They just want to get that money. When we come on the weekends, it's pretty full," said Strittmatter, a 20-year-old community college student. "Just as long as there's a dome and AC … it's good for me."

Rays fans are divided on the issue of leaving Tropicana Field 06/23/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 24, 2010 9:47am]
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