Build a new stadium. Or don't. Build one in Tampa. Or don't. Build one in the Lens in the middle of Tampa Bay. Whatever. This week we don't care. It's time to play some ball. The Tampa Bay Rays home opener in much-maligned Tropicana Field is Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles. Cy Young winner David Price (whoot!) takes the mound at 3:10 p.m. Tickets start at $19 at tampabay.rays.mlb.com or call toll-free 1-888-326-7297.
PARTY TIME: You have not one but two parties to choose from. The two blocks in front of Ferg's on Central Avenue will be closed to traffic for a free party with live music by the Troy Duncan Band, food, children's activities and giveaways starting at noon at 1320 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Also starting at noon in the Tropicana Field parking lot, you can hang out with the guys of Rays Rally sports blog, where they will be handing out free hot dogs (RSVP at raysrally.com so they have enough) and snacks. They'll have corn hole games set up and ladder ball, which they call hillbilly horse shoes and giveaways.
GIVEAWAY: SCHEDULE MAGNET! Yeah, the kids will have endless hours of fun with that. Oh, we get it. A little nudge-nudge to attend some games, every time you open your fridge door. Good one. And much quieter than last year's free promotion: cowbells.
DON'T MISS: Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer, 82, will deliver the ceremonial first pitch on Tuesday, along with his family. (Any chance he'll be clutching a Zim Bear?) This is his 65th season in professional baseball (10th with the Rays) and his 54th major league opening day.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: On Tuesday the honors go to a veteran, 21-year-old Tampa saxophonist B.K. Jackson, who has performed the Star Spangled-Banner at home openers in 2009, 2011 and 2012, not to mention several games during 2008's glorious run to the World Series.
AT THE PLATE: The Trop has some new food options this season, including fried dough with fruit toppings, hand carved turkey sandwiches and the "all natural" stand in Centerfield Street featuring all natural hot dogs and chicken fingers and Blue Diamond flavored almonds.
BEER ME: There are several new beer offerings as well: Batch 19, Blue Moon Agave Blonde, Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, Goose Island, Third Shift Amber and Redd's Apple Ale.
FOR THE KIDS: Don't forget an old standby. Take the kids by the 35-foot, 10,000-gallon tank with real rays you can touch, located just beyond the right-center field fence and free for all fans.