My, how one week changes the mood of local baseball fans! After winning three of their last five games on a two-city road trip, including winning both games played against the loathed Red Sox, baseball chatter has revved up again in St. Petersburg.
Going to Rays games is fun, but in these tight economic times, can get expensive. The Rays begin an eight-game series against two of the better teams in the American League, Minnesota and Chicago, tonight. Here are five ways to save some cash going to the games:
1.) Hang at Ferg's: For reasons not totally known, ticket brokers, like many fans, flock to Ferg's Sports Cafe, a long fly ball from Tropicana Field, before games. The closer to the first pitch, the more the prices for tickets drop. If you don't mind missing an inning or two, Rays fans can obtain a significant discount, in some cases as much as 75 percent off of face value.
2.) Park on Central Ave.: Parking at games, especially, games against big-time opponents, can be pricey. Prices at privately-owned lots are not locked in so these capitalists tend to gouge fans depending on who the Rays are playing. But try parking a few blocks west of Tropicana Field on Central Ave. For a night game, the time-limited on-street parking ends at 7 p.m. Say you arrive at 6 p.m., you can park without worry of getting a parking ticket, and it's free. On the walk to the game, there are all sorts of neat mom and pop eateries and watering holes where the food and drink is significantly cheaper than the fare inside the dome.
3.) Bring food to the game: The Rays allow fans to bring food and bottled water into games. The food, however, must be in clear packaging. So pop some popcorn at home, cook your hot dogs at home, stop at a deli to get a sandwich, and save tons of money. There are some establishments such as Burg Bar that offer clear plastic bags, so patrons can eat there and bring leftovers, like fries or onion rings, into the game.
4.) Go to the game with some friends: The Rays have a policy that any car or truck with four fans or more can park at the Tropicana Field parking lots for free. Make it a party. Get to the game early, tailgate, and bring your grub inside (in a clear plastic bag of course) and you will be double-dipping on the Rays expense (no parking, no food concessions).
5.) Move around at The Trop: Sadly, the Rays don't exactly draw fans like the Cardinals or Dodgers or even the Cubs. So take advantage of it. Buy a cheap seat in the upper deck (depending on the opponent, for as low as $9) and move down to the 200 level in-between the far ends of the dugouts. The view is great and so long as you are not sitting in someone's seats, the ushers will leave you alone. Caution: If you try to sit in the lower bowl, the 100 level, you are begging for a confrontation with an usher.