Rays prepare for larger crowds during playoffs

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ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Bay Rays are hoping to make another trip to the World Series.

The MLB postseason begins Thursday night. The Rays will take on the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field in a best of 7 series. The first pitch will take place at 8:07 p.m.

Rays officials are advising fans to arrive well ahead of start time.

“Our capacity during the regular season is about 25,000 and we’re going to see that go up to about 32,000,” said Bill Walsh, Vice President of Strategy and Analytics for the Rays. “There are some tarps on the upper decks, so, if demand requires it we can go ahead and roll these tarps back and bring even more people—up to 40,000 plus.”

Walsh says the extra fans will notice special selections at food stands, updated programming and ALDS playoff merchandise.

“We’re trying to make this as convenient for fans as possible. Extra ticket scanners, extra security. So, we’re doing everything we can to reduce those friction points and get fans in as soon as we can. That being said, it’s going to be really busy,” he said. “The ability to share that with the local community here and welcome fans back in to Tropicana Field for playoff baseball is really exciting for us.”

COVID-19 protocols are expected to stay the same. Unvaccinated fans are required to wear a mask.

According to Walsh, you can show your Rays pride even if you don’t make it to the stadium. Yard signs are available on the Rays’ website.

Thousands of fans are heading to St. Petersburg for the playoffs and it’s bringing extra business to area restaurants.

The manager of The Avenue says they rely heavily on business from the games to stay afloat. According to Ray Corallinosports are responsible for 80% of their income.

“We definitely see an uptick in business on this block when the Rays are playing, probably a little more after the game than before. We definitely see that uptick in business and we’re definitely looking forward to playoff games,” he told 8 On Your Side.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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