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INSIDE BASEBALL

Behind the scenes

An occasional glimpse at the inner workings of bay area businesses

When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays play at Tropicana Field, some intense hustling takes place far from the diamond. From prepping meals to appeasing fans, a core work group keeps the Trop going.

The history

Owner: City of St. Petersburg

Year opened: 1990

First Rays season: 1998

Capacity: 44,800

Area: 1.1-million square feet

The stadium

Cost to build: $138-million

'96 renovation: $85-million

'06 renovations: $10-million

The money

Gate receipts: $23-million

Average ticket price: $17

Christian Cooper, Guest service supervisor

Start at building: 1990

Duties: Oversees Gates 1,3 and 4 guest service centers, handling all issues - parking, ticketing, seating (Photo: Cooper seated longtime friends and Rays fans John Venere and Krys Rae).

An oddity: A man entered the building on a Segway. Cooper had to handle the situation since they aren't allowed inside.

Positives: Loves helping people have fun; many are her friends because seh has been there so long.

Merritt Ashmore, Centerplate supervisor

Start with Rays: 1998

Duties: Oversees 25 5o 35 people at the Third Base concession stands.

Typical day: On a slow day, he does inventory, sets up (Photo: He thaws out frozen Hebrew National dogs before a game), stocks and cleans from 3 p.m.m to midnight.

Special Delivery: Delivered food during Yankee series to a dad alone with kids in his seats.

Brian Hemsley, Director of operations, Sentry Event Services Inc.

Start at building: 1994

Duties: Suprevises 60 to 100 security personnel who help enforce the rules in the stadium.

Routine: Starts at command post and then visits the Rays dugout (Photo: Hemsley with DH Jonny Gomes)

Memorable Days: Opening day and watching the first pitch; escorting Wade Boggs' dad for Boggs' 3,000 hit.

Loves: Exchanging stories.

His advice to staffers: Fans come first. Hemsley says that, "90 percent of what we do is customer service."

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