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Rays showcase ‘grit and glow’ with City Connect uniforms

Mark Parker



Outfielder Randy Arozarena models the Tampa Bay Rays' new City Connect uniforms. Photos provided.

The wait is over: After years of preparation and weeks of online speculation, the Tampa Bay Rays unveiled their much-anticipated City Connect uniforms Monday.

Major League Baseball and Nike launched the City Connect program in 2020 to strengthen connections between teams and communities and attract new and younger fans. The resulting uniforms and merchandise are closely guarded secrets.

The Rays chose “Grit and Glow” as an overarching theme for thoughtful and bold uniforms celebrating the area’s independent and underground spirit. Before Monday’s announcement, Bill Walsh, chief business officer, explained that the process began by answering, “If you could tell one story about Tampa Bay, what would it be?”

Walsh said team officials began brainstorming ideas nearly four years ago. They decided to highlight Tampa Bay’s deeply rooted counter-culture scenes – skating, street art, music and tattoos – with a vibrant, tropical flair.

“That was a little bit of a manifesto that we started with early in the process,” Walsh said. “Tampa Bay being a place to call home for beach bums, punk rockers, sun worshipers, sneakerheads, skaters, pirates … proud weirdos, surrealists, hipsters, local and tourists, who never went home.”

Bill Walsh, chief business executive, stressed the significance of prominently featuring the “Tampa Bay” moniker. Pictured: Third baseman Yandy Diaz.

The “Tampa Bay” moniker will adorn team jerseys for the first time since the 2007 season. Stylized flames accent a neon blue and green outline reminiscent of the team’s Devil Rays days.

The logo also pays homage to skateboarding publications and street art. Walsh noted the region has been a hub for the sport and its surrounding culture since 1979 when the publicly funded Bro Bowl Skate Park opened in Tampa.

He said the annual Tampa Pro event, now in its 30th year, is the nation’s longest-running skate competition. “It’s also the most exclusive … It’s been compared to the Wimbledon or Masters of skateboarding,” Walsh added.

He explained that the often-untold story intertwines with several other local creative outlets. Walsh said the team wanted to celebrate “daring, defiant expression” and the intersection of individuality and inclusivity.

“There’s also an attitude associated with being a skateboarder,” Walsh said. “You have to be unafraid to be unconventional. And we see a lot of parallels between that culture and our organization and the things we try to do to get an edge and compete in a game that is built on tradition.”

The dark grey jersey’s color and texture resemble a sun-faded black T-shirt. Corresponding pants feature a neon blue and green pinstripe matching the “Tampa Bay” logo’s outline.

Jersey numbers and the hat’s underbill have a skateboarding grip tape texture. The cap logo combines a ray with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to represent the team’s connections to the region’s various communities.

Fans who caught a glimpse of a City Connect mural near the intersection of 5th Avenue North and 34th St. have dubbed it the “SkyRay” on social media. Bright blue socks will also feature what Walsh called “an important logo for us.”

A closeup of the new “SkyRay” logo.

A “Neon Sway” logo of three palm trees is an ode to the historic marker sign at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, which houses the Bro Bowl. The Rays paired that with a pelican emblem that adorns St. Petersburg’s flag and honors the city’s Florida State Negro League team.

“We’ve got 300-plus people who live here, work here and love this area,” Walsh said. “And this has been viewed as our opportunity to showcase that.”

He called player reactions “super positive.” Pitcher Pete Fairbanks, a skateboarding enthusiast, played an integral part in the design process.

An unveiling party at Tropicana Field begins at 2 p.m. Monday. It will feature a skateboarding exhibition, a DJ and food trucks, and allow fans to purchase City Connect merchandise before the team wears it in a game.

Pitcher Pete Fairbanks was heavily involved in the design process.

The Rays, Nike and apparel store Fanatics have partnered to host a larger celebration Thursday night at the St. Pete Pier. Walsh said the event will feature “five or six players,” a drone show, live bands and “tons of different engaging activities.”

The Rays will don the City Connect uniforms for the first time Friday against the New York Mets. Local artist John Vitale, who painted the corresponding mural, will throw out the first pitch at 6:40 p.m.

“If there was one thing we were nervous about, it was just making sure that this feels authentic,” Walsh said. “We’re trying to communicate that vibe and authenticity.”









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  1. Avatar

    Bill Herrmann

    May 1, 2024at8:31 am

    Honesty matters….

    “alternate team uniforms would sport the St. Petersburg name, said Doyle Walsh, chief of staff to Mayor Ken Welch. The talks include allowing the city to have input in naming the ballpark, placing prominent St. Petersburg signs inside the park and a marketing plan that would “promote the team, the stadium and the destination jointly,” according to city documents.”
    See https://www.wtsp.com/article/sports/mlb/rays/st-petersburg-name-change-stadium-update/67-5f96c534-9adf-4e75-83ac-8a4ac2a7c5ae

    Why can’t folks just do what they promised?

  2. Avatar


    May 1, 2024at7:09 am

    The narrow targeted appeal is so obvious. Another illustration of why the Rays have trouble appealing to their home town.

  3. Avatar


    April 30, 2024at9:28 pm

    Dang, those are ugly uniforms.

  4. Avatar


    April 30, 2024at7:30 am

    I love how they promote the vintage style of St. Pete while tearing it all down at the same time. /s

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