ST. PETERSBURG - Excited about how fans east of Tampa Bay are responding to the Rays efforts to expand their fan base, team president Matthew Silverman announced today that there will be regular season baseball at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, once again.
This year the three-game set will be played against the Toronto Blue Jays and it will come earlier in the season, April 22-24. It will be the second time the Rays have hosted big league baseball in Lake Buena Vista. In May 2007, the Texas Rangers were the visitors and the series drew huge crowds.
"We are thrilled to have the Rays back once again and look forward to another successful and entertaining series," said Ken Potrock, Senior Vice President of Disney Sports Enterprises. "Having regular-season Major League Baseball return adds to the number of unique experiences that our guests can enjoy at Disney's Wide World of Sports."
Silverman was also looking forward to a second year in the Land of the Mouse.
"We had a great experience last year at Disney in Central Florida," he said. "It was capped off by a three game sweep. We continue to make significant progress turning the area into Rays' territory. We saw increases in TV ratings and we saw fans making the trip west across the state to Tropicana Field and we believe that Orlando and Central Florida will become a very big part of our regional efforts."
All fans attending the games in Orlando will receive a voucher for a ticket to a designated weekend game at Tropicana Field this season and tickets can also be purchased via an Internet-only special on Friday, February, 15.
Individual tickets for the three-game set will go on sale Saturday, February, 16 at the Champion Stadium Box Office at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, Tropicana Field Box Office, Rays Tampa Office & Pro Shop, via the Rays official website at www.raysbaseball.com or www.raysbeisbol.com, all Ticketmaster locations, and via Ticketmaster Phonecharge at (727) 898-7297 or (407) 839-3900.
The Rays are also offering a special three-game package. Luxury entertainment suites and group ticket specials are available by calling 888-FAN RAYS or by logging on to raysbaseball.com.
Friedman, like everyone in the Rays organization, would like to see the team get off to a good start and he highlighted his comments by saying it would be nice to come back still undefeated in outdoor home games.
The rebranding of the team, new colors and uniforms and an entirely new outlook have drawn interest from far and wide and that is going a long way to helping some become Rays' fans outside the region and state.
"We've had some unusual sightings," Silverman told Rays Digest. "For example, Peter King of Sports Illustrated wore out new hat and sweatshirt around the Super Bowl for a couple of days. That helps extend the new brand. It's going to take spring training and the regular season for the whole country to see the changes especially with the high profile players we have now."
In all, it looks like a nice start to a new beginning.