Tampa Bay Rays celebrating Earth Day on Saturday, unveiling new Touch Tank

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Fans are encouraged to celebrate Earth Day at the Trop on Sunday, April 22, when the Rays unveil a remodeled Touch Tank above center field. In keeping with the Earth Day celebration, the team will plant an oyster ball in the Bay for any Rays hitter who breaks a bat during Sunday’s game.

Baseball fans are advised to allow plenty of time for travel to the game and for parking before heading inside for the first pitch. There is more than enough parking at Tropicana Field. In addition to the 7,000 convenient on-site spaces, there is also a free shuttle to downtown parking, as well as more than 100 licensed surface parking lots around the ballpark. These privately-owned and operated lots have applied with the city for a permit to operate as a paid parking lot during Rays games and are clearly marked with signage featuring a capital “P,” lot number and city ordinance number. These signs indicate the lots have met the conditions necessary to legally park cars around Tropicana Field. They are the only licensed parking areas for event attendees parking outside of Tropicana Field, but still within the half-mile radius. The designated signage, along with additional baseball parking information, may be viewed atwww.stpete.org/baseballparking.

Fans are strongly encouraged to park only in on-site Rays lots, licensed off-site private lots (marked with a blue “P” and posted lot number) or in one of the downtown waterfront parking facilities and accessible via the free baseball shuttle. Parking in unlicensed, unattended or vacant lots is not recommended as vehicles may be ticketed or towed. Licensed lots must provide fans with a parking space on their private property. Legitimate parking attendants should be in uniform and will provide a receipt/ticket upon payment. If the lot or attendant/cashier does not look legitimate or cannot provide a receipt, fans are advised to find an alternate parking location.

Fans are encouraged to park in spaces that do not obstruct the normal flow of traffic, including sidewalks, right-of-ways, driveways, etc. Vehicles that are found in violation of these areas may towed or ticketed. Fans are advised not to self-park or pay to park in improper spaces, such as on a sidewalk or other unmarked right-of-way.

Fans may consider avoiding congestion by parking downtown and patronizing St. Petersburg’s downtown dining and retail districts before heading to Tropicana Field. Parking is available at BayWalk garage (Second St. between First and Second Aves. N.) and the South Core garage, (First Ave. S. between First and Second Sts. S.) and fans may hop aboard the free baseball shuttle for a ride to the ball park.  Parking rates will vary between $5 and $10, depending on day of the week and special events located along the waterfront.

Baseball shuttles run every 10-15 minutes, with service beginning 90 minutes prior to each home game. Shuttles end service one hour after the final inning or post-game concert. Shuttle stops are located at the corner of Central Ave. and Second St. S. (under the tower building pedestrian bridge) with drop-off at 16th St. S., just south of Third Ave. S.  Disability accommodations, including vehicles with wheelchair lifts, will be utilized at every game. Additional information, including a route map, can be found atwww.stpetetrolley.com/Events.html.

Traffic officials suggest fans consider using these alternate routes to avoid potential issues during high traffic periods such as within an hour and a half of the first pitch for sellout or near sellout games:  Fourth St. from the north or 16th St. and Fifth Ave. S. from the south.  Southbound I-275 traffic may exit early at 54th, 38th, or 22nd Avenues N., travel east to 4th St., and approach the ballpark from the east. Northbound traffic on I-275 can exit early on 31st St. to 5th Ave. S. and approach from the west side of the ballpark to avoid traffic tie-ups.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.