ST. PETERSBURG — The bad news at Tropicana Field this week was that Tampa Bay lost three straight to Boston.
The good news was that 21 drivers lost the disabled placards that police said they were using to illegally park in the Trop's disabled spots — and probably in disabled spots everywhere else.
But this might be the worst statistic of all: Eight were using disabled permits that belonged to someone who was dead, according to St. Petersburg Officer Tonia Nave.
Each of the 21 offenders also got a $258 citation in a two-day parking lot operation during this week's home stand with the Red Sox. The law says that whoever was issued the disabled permit needs to be in the vehicle when it's parked. Police volunteers waited at the Trop this week to check each vehicle as it pulled into a disabled spot. They heard all kinds of explanations.
The worst excuse that Nave said she heard was from the woman who said the disabled placard belonged to her companion — but he was on a "trip" to Connecticut.
"But when I got back to the office and checked, he'd been dead for two years," Nave said. The driver was a Red Sox fan, police said.
Police ticketed 14 violators on Tuesday but just seven on Wednesday, after an article in that day's St. Petersburg Times detailed the parking lot operation. Nave said half a dozen drivers pulled into the disabled lot Wednesday afternoon but quickly turned around when they saw the uniformed police volunteers. But they left their disabled placards hanging out in the open.
Last year the city seized 67 disabled permits at the Trop. It's just May and the city has already taken 36 from the dome's lot. Parking enforcers said they'll keep visiting the Trop for at least one home stand a month for the rest of the season.