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BIG SCREEN, BIG VIEW

No easy chairs for these Rays. They like breezy chairs. At the Pier.

For Joe Groom, watching the World Series at home provides a few benefits, including free food, the comfort of the easy chair and convenient access to the refrigerator for beer.

But the ambience of watching Game 3 at the Pier in front of the water with a few friends was too much to resist.

He made a return visit Saturday evening, after enjoying the venue for Thursday night's victory in Game 2. "You can't replace the feeling," said Groom, 61, of Plant City.

Rays fans crowded in to watch the game, eager for a chance to enjoy the cool, breezy weather and the big screening of the biggest game yet.

Most people arrived early, taking a peek at college football because of Saturday night's rain delay for the game in Philadelphia.

A few dogs clad in Rays jerseys came out with their owners as well, able to participate in the outdoor festivities.

Michael Nazarenus, 24, of Tampa said that the group atmosphere is what makes it worth it. Rays games, after all, for him have been rather stressful.

"I've been through the good and the bad," Nazarenus said. "Too many games have come down to the wire." He hadn't been able to find tickets for much of the postseason, but he made the best of it, coming along with his bell and sipping a cold beer.

Stacey Pevzner, a spokeswoman for the Pier, said that displaying the games has been good business for the food court and the nearby Captain Al's restaurant.

People have crowded at the waterfront attraction in search of a different experience. While sports bars have been packed with rowdy patrons for the games, it was a slightly more subdued family atmosphere at the Pier.

Elvis Nunez, 38, of Tampa came out with his wife and son. "It's just nice and relaxing," he said.

Austin Bogues can be reached at abogues@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8872.

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