Rays fans pack the Trop for Fan Fest, weigh in on team’s potential move to Ybor City

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Bay Rays fans packed into The Trop in St. Pete on Saturday for the annual Fan Fest event.

This year’s Fan Fest was held one day after the Rays confirmed what News Channel 8 broke 4 months ago — they want to play ball in Tampa.

“I have been a fan since day one. Since the very first game,” said Scott King of St. Pete. 

His loyalty to the Tampa Bay Rays runs deep. He’s a season ticket holder, and one of the first in line for Saturday’s Fan Fest. Like many, he’s wondering if his beloved Rays are migrating across the bay.

“I’m skeptical of it. I don’t like the idea because Tropicana Field is so close to where I live,” said King.

Thirteen-year-old Luke Stanenzewski is also a big fan. He wants the team to stay put.

“I like this stadium. I like all the memories. Like when we went to the World Series,” he said.

On Friday, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said it’s time for a change. That means moving across the bay.

“Our entire focus now and energies are going to be put towards getting this project done and as the people up here have said, it’s going to be a complex project and it’s going to need all of our energies to get it done,” said Sternberg.

Ticket sales for games have been low for several years. While the Rays believe a new location will help, fans are skeptical.

“I think the big problem is lack of corporate sponsorship. Obviously, a new stadium will help with that. I’m hoping it will help,” said fan Jackie McBride.

If everything goes according to the Rays’ plan, it’ll be bittersweet for those who spent many ball seasons in the Trop.

“It’s a hometown team. I’d like to keep them here and experience it with my nephew,” said McBride.

But, if moving to the proposed Ybor City site is what’s best for the team, diehard fans say they’ll be there with bells on.

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