ST PETERSBURG, Florida -- They've held seats at Tropicana Field longer than the Rays have played there. But a small group of season ticket holders say a drastic hike in their ticket prices is forcing them to give up their tickets.
Ellenton's Sharon Greene says she bought a reserved seat at Tropicana Field in the mid-90's before her family even knew what team would play there. And after more than a decade of watching Rays baseball from the Loge section (the seats immediately above the concourse), she considers her neighboring season ticket holders her family. Especially after her husband passed away after the 2006 season.
But following the Rays' successful 2010 season, they reclassified the Loge section as Lower Box seats. That comes with a hefty price hike.
Greene says she's used to paying a few hundred dollars more each year for her seats, which even have her name on them. But after paying $3,598 for two tickets last year, the same seats would cost her $5,946 in 2011. The $2,348 hike represents a 65 percent jump.
"They complain that nobody comes. Then they take an entire section and tick us off," Greene said. "I understand prices going up (but) I don't really understand prices going up when the economy is so bad."
Greene says her season ticket representative was apologetic and offered a partial rebate in the form of food and beverage credit. But she said with the economy hurting her family's finances, it isn't an option.
She says she was offered cheaper alternatives in other sections, too, but couldn't think to leave the "family" members she had made in section 113.
"It's my identity with my husband and all the friends I've made there," Greene said through tears. "It's just such a big part of our life. And to lose it, it's tough."
The Rays declined comment on the story, but in a recent press release, said "that prices for 62 percent of their tickets will remain the same or decrease for the 2011 season."
And Greene expects some of the Loge fans will relocate to other sections. But she says she will not.
"My other seats are right here on the couch. I won't buy tickets anywhere else."
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