Downtown St. Pete businesses worry what a Rays move could mean

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – News that the Tampa Bay Rays could move to another location, including out of downtown St. Petersburg, has been talked about for years. 

But, Tuesday’s announcement could mean the team is one step closer to a move. That is not welcome news to employees at businesses close to Tropicana Field.

Ashley Simmons is a bartender at Ferg’s, right across the street from the Trop. She knows what the close proximity means for business. She also knows what it could mean if the Rays are no longer playing there.

“And if the stadium is gone, the fans aren’t going to be here any more,” said Simmons. “They’re not going to come here to watch the game on TV when it’s out in Tampa. They’ll just go there. ”

Just down Central Avenue at Tabitha Exquisite Touch, Ashley Jackson echoed Simmons’ feelings.

She says on game days, parking is a premium, and sometimes that creates walk-in business.

“They’ll come in and get a hair cut,” said Jackson. “Or if they want some braids, I can do them real quick until they go get ready for the game.”

Jackson feels like a lot of businesses downtown rely on fans and if the Rays go away, so will the fans and their dollars.

She’s hopeful city leaders will do what they can to keep the team in St. Pete. She fears what will happen if the Rays do vacate the Trop.

“It definitely will affect small businesses,” said Jackson. “And there are a lot of small businesses up and down Central that depend on Tropicana Field and the Rays.”

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