ST. PETERSBURG – The Tampa Bay Rays play host at the annual Fan Fest Saturday, Feb. 22, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Tropicana Field.
Admission and parking are free.
This year’s event features a number of activities for kids, including “Reading with the Rays,” a clinic with Rays coaches, the All Children’s Hospital Kids’ Interactive Zone, photos with Rays mascot Raymond and DJ Kitty, baseball activities for all ages and appearances by Rays players and coaches at various stations throughout the day.
In an effort to allow fans to enjoy more of the sights and sounds of Fan Fest, this year’s autograph process will allow fans the opportunity to receive an autograph from the specific player they want. Fans must go online to purchase a pass that will provide access to that player at a specific time frame during Fan Fest. Passes will be available for purchase at a later date. A limited number of passes will be sold for each signing player and all sales must be completed online. There will be no sales on the day of or during Fan Fest.
Proceeds from autograph sales will benefit the ALS Association Florida Chapter and the Rays Baseball Foundation. Additionally, one autograph table will be free for kids 14 and under. More than 25 former major league players will also sign autographs for free throughout the day.
Representatives from the Rays’ ticket sales department will be available to assist fans throughout the day in the purchase of season tickets, group tickets, party area and suite rentals as well as three-, six- and nine- game Flex Packs. Rays season ticket holders and Flex Pack buyers will receive special access and benefits at Fan Fest with their Rays Card (cards will be sent in February). Fans can place their reservation now toward a 2014 ticket plan or purchase a Flex Pack through raysbaseball.com to receive these benefits.
Rays Manager Joe Maddon will again hold a Thanksmas event at the 2014 Rays Fan Fest. A limited number of fans will have the opportunity to enjoy hors d’oeuvres based on Maddon’s Thanksmas meal, sample a variety of wines and talk with Rays coaches, broadcasters and MLB alumni inside the Ted Williams Museum.
Maddon has served his traditional Thanksmas meal at area homeless shelters over the last eight winters as a part of his Thanksmas initiative. All proceeds from this event benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation and Joe’s Thanksmas Charity.
More information regarding the Fan Fest Thanksmas event will be provided at a future date.
The Rays Charity Yard Sale also returns for a fourth year, giving fans the chance to purchase unique game-used and autographed memorabilia dating back to the inaugural season. All proceeds benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation. Rays season ticket holders and Flex Pack buyers will receive premium access to the charity yard sale, giving them the first opportunity to purchase available items.
Between the Rays Charity Yard Sale, Thanksmas and autograph sales at the 2013 Rays Fan Fest, $100,000 was raised to benefit local Salvation Army chapters, the ALS Association Florida Chapter and the Rays Baseball Foundation.
To promote “Reading with the Rays,” the club’s summer reading program supported by the Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education program, Rays players will read select stories to kids throughout the day.
In the All Children’s Hospital Kids’ Interactive Zone, kids can take cuts in a big league batting cage, try out their fastball in the speed pitch booth and swing for the fences in the Wiffle Ball Home Run Derby.
The 2014 Players and Pooches calendar will also be available for purchase at Fan Fest. All proceeds from the sales will go to Pet Pal Animal Shelter.
The Rays will also use their social media accounts to give fans even more opportunities for team and player interaction and exclusive prizes throughout Fan Fest.
The team’s main Twitter account – @RaysBaseball – will serve as a communication hub where fans can get up-to-date information on events happening throughout the day and answers to questions about Fan Fest.
Twitter users can also have their messages posted on the RaysVision video board at Tropicana Field by using the #RaysFanFest hashtag for all messages related to the event.