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Rays capitalize on ‘palpable excitement’

Mark Parker



Randy Arozarena strikes his trademark pose. Tampa Bay Rays officials dedicated Left Field seating to his growing fanbase. Screengrab: Tampa Bay Rays, YouTube.

In the past few days, Tampa Bay Rays officials have announced additional seating, a new post-game concert series and the surprise transformation of Left Field seating into “Randy Land.”

While the section of Tropicana Field dedicated to Randy Arozarena’s rapidly growing fanbase opened April 21, the team will officially launch Randy Land as a separately ticketed area with special promotions May 5. That is the same day the Rays kick off a homestand against the New York Yankees, and the upper deck will open in the regular season for the first time since 2018.

In addition, the team announced Thursday that the once-popular free summer concert series would return to the Trop after a six-year hiatus. Bill Walsh, chief business officer, said the excitement stemming from the Rays’ historic start to the season is palpable, and officials plan to capitalize on the momentum “at every level.”

“The region’s growing; the region changed,” Walsh added. “There are people here now that weren’t here three, four or five years ago. There’s opportunities, I think, for us to reach new audiences. Hopefully, we can leverage the success that we’ve had to do just that.”

The Rays lead Major League Baseball with a 21-5 record. They won 13 straight games to open their 25th anniversary season and became the first team since 1900 to start the year with 14 consecutive home victories.

The defending World Series champion Houston Astros snapped that streak Monday. The Rays also set a home run record, knocking at least one ball out of the park in each of their first 21 games.

Center fielder Manuel Margot contributes to the team’s 21-game home run streak. Screengrab.

With four straight postseason appearances, a couple of key offseason additions and a solid nucleus returning for 2023, Walsh said the organization expected to field a good team. However, no one at 1 Tropicana Drive anticipated “the run we went on and the start we’ve had.”

“Certainly, I think that galvanized a lot of excitement here from the fans,” Walsh said. “A really great atmosphere at the Trop to start the season. We’re trying to do everything we can to keep that going.”

Section 141, above Arozarena’s post in Left Field, will transform into Randy Land for every Friday home game through the end of the year. Tickets are $49 and include one of four T-shirt designs.

Fans will also receive a free beer, soda or water whenever he hits a homer. Arozarena currently has five through 26 games.

He was one of the World Baseball Classic’s brightest stars in March, and Walsh said Arozarena carried that momentum to the clubhouse. He noted how the “charismatic” player enjoys engaging with the crowd, and there “is a lot of fun happening out there in Left Field.”

“Some natural interactions with the fans have already started to happen,” Walsh explained. “We kind of thought, ‘Hey, this is almost halfway there, why don’t we try to make this a little bit more official and turn this into an opportunity to have even more fun.”

Bill Walsh, chief business officer for the Tampa Bay Rays. Photo by Mark Parker.

He relayed that attendance has increased “substantially” this year. While Walsh added that there is room for improvement, tickets for Yankees games are in high demand regardless of record-setting starts.

According to, 63,008 fans watched last weekend’s three-game series against the 7-19 Chicago White Sox at Tropicana Field. The American League East rival Yankees are 15-11 on the season.

That underscored the need to open the Trop’s upper deck in the regular season for the first time in five years. Another unexpected aspect of the 2023 season is the return of free concerts.

Ticketholders for the Friday, May 19 matchup against the Milwaukee Brewers can stay after the game to hear AJR. The indie pop trio has a triple-platinum single, double-platinum single, four platinum singles and one platinum album – 2019’s Neotheater – under their belt.

“AJR is a great band that hits kind of a younger demographic,” Walsh said. “That’s certainly an audience that we’d love to try to reach and have come out to experience more and more Rays games.”

The opportunity arose earlier this year, and the team recently worked out the logistics with promoter Ballpark Music. He noted that the concerts were previously a “fan-favorite,” and a fitting 25th-anniversary celebration.

Although Walsh could not publicly share details, he said officials are working on additional dates. They hope to have two, maybe three, concerts this summer.

“Music, a lot like baseball, is one of those things that brings people from different backgrounds together for a shared experience,” Walsh said.

The team’s front office planned to highlight memorable moments throughout its 25-year history this season. The Rays are now making baseball history, which Walsh called “really special.”

“You can’t plan for it,” he added. “You just have to be thankful for those moments.”






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