Rays fans started lining up outside Tropicana Field hours before Friday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles.
“I had to convince my dad to bring me here,” said Courtney Widdows, a ninth-grader who succeeded in getting her father to pick her up from school and wait at the gate before the park opened.
Getting to the park early could pay off for this weekend’s games. All seats will be sold as general admission, giving fans a chance to sit in prime seats they might otherwise not get.
“I was really excited because I’ve always wanted to sit next to the dugout,” Widdows said.
The three-game series was relocated to St. Petersburg from Baltimore after unrest in the light of Freddie Gray’s death prompted another game to be postponed, and one to be played without fans in the stands.
The Orioles will play as the home team at Tropicana field. As the “visiting” team, the Rays will bat first and wear away uniforms. Players for both teams will have walk-up music and both mascots are expected at the park, Rays officials said.
“It’s a different feel, but it’s really nice that they’re letting us be home team,” said Sarah Cooley, who is from Baltimore and was attending her first game at Tropicana Field.
As the line formed for fans to get into the stadium, several dozen people began a protest steps away from the gate. The protesters carried signs referencing Baltimore and Freddie Gray. One read: “No justice … No peace … No matter the city.”
“We’re here to make sure there’s no safe haven away from dealing with the question of police brutality in the African community,” said Gaida Kambon, who is with the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
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