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St. Petersburg plans 'clean zone' for merchants around Trop during playoffs

ST. PETERSBURG — Ticket brokers, T-shirt hawkers and beer merchants may face a new set of rules and boundaries when the Tampa Bay Rays are in the playoffs.

The City Council will vote next week to establish a 30-block area around Tropicana Field that would require temporary vendors to buy a $100 permit. Dubbed a "clean zone," it was also done in 2008 when the Rays went to the World Series. It's a regular practice in most cities for major sporting events and is created every year in St. Petersburg for the grand prix auto race. Clean zones are designed to prevent counterfeiting and to enhance the aesthetics near the venue.

"It gives us a regulatory framework for temporary commercial activities," said Kevin Dunn, the city's managing director of development coordination. "It lets us work with Major League Baseball so that we can make sure the merchandise being sold is authorized and legal."

Permits would be issued for the sale of merchandise, entertainment, food and beverages. No semitrailers, vans or RV-style trucks would be allowed, except those designed for vending of merchandise. No signs or logos would be allowed on the tents, but two exterior signs near the tent could identify what the tent offers. No commercial activities would be allowed on sidewalks and in streets.

Lawyers from baseball's commissioner's office would patrol tents with St. Petersburg police to verity the authenticity of the merchandise. In 2008, quite a few vendors were found to be selling counterfeit merchandise, said Sgt. Kevin Smith, who heads the vice unit for the proposed clean zone.

Those caught selling counterfeit tickets or merchandise could either be fined $138 if they did it unknowingly or face arrest if they are repeat offenders. It could be a felony if they are caught selling more than $1,000 in illicit goods.

"It provides a nice buffer zone where restrictions can apply," Smith said.

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or mvansickler@sptimes.com.

St. Petersburg plans 'clean zone' for merchants around Trop during playoffs 09/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 8:01am]
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