ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays' stadium may be named for PepsiCo's Tropicana orange juice, but that's not stopping the baseball team from switching its pouring rights to Coke.
The Rays said Wednesday the ballpark would begin serving Coca-Cola products exclusively in a partnership with Coke Florida at the start of the 2018 season — well, kind of.
A Rays spokesman confirmed Thursday the ballpark will still offer Tropicana OJ, even though the brand is outside the Coke family.
It's still unclear what will happen to the Pepsi Bottle mascot races, which have featured Pepsi drinks and an Aquafina water bottle. Dasani is Coke's bottled water. Coke also owns Minute Maid and Simply Orange juices.
The mascot race was due for a change-up regardless. A Rays spokeswoman said Thursday the team was already in the process of revamping the in-game experience and concessions to celebrate its 20th season this year.
The Trop was named in 1996, two years before the Rays began to play there. PepsiCo didn't buy Tropicana until 1998. Tropicana Field's naming rights contract, which ends in 2027, is separate from its beverage contacts.
Last year, Major League Baseball entered a multi-year deal with Coca-Cola to be its official beverage sponsor, but that deal did not require teams like the Rays with Pepsi contracts to make a switch.
Forbes reported that 18 of the 30 MLB teams already had Coca-Cola deals in 2017.
"We look forward to not only offering Coke products to our fans, but also to collaborating with their team on community projects that will make an impact in the ballpark and in the region," Rays president Brian Auld said in a news release.
Much bigger changes for the Rays are already on the horizon.
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg announced last week the team wants to leave St. Petersburg behind and move the ballpark to Ybor City in Tampa.
Opening day at the Trop is March 29 when the Rays play Boston.
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