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Opening Day 2018: What to know for Tampa Bay Rays' season opener

What to know for Tampa Bay Rays' season opener
Posted at 11:15 AM, Mar 27, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Rays will open their 21st season at Tropicana Field on Thursday when they take on the Boston Red Sox.

First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. If you plan on going to the season opener, there are some things you should know.

The game is sold out, marking it the 13th consecutive year the Rays have sold out the home opener.

If you still want to catch the game, it will be televised locally by FOX Sports Sun. All Rays games are also available on the radio via 620 WDAE/95.3 FM and WGES 680. 


New in 2018, game day parking at Tropicana Field can only be purchased by credit card or Rays Card. Cash will no longer be accepted at Rays-owned parking lots to increase efficiency, the team says. A secure mobile technology will be used to swipe credit cards for payment. 

Parking is $15 on Opening Day, and an early ‘Happy Hour’ tailgate rate of $12 is available from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Parking passes can also be purchased in advance at the box office or online at


The St. Petersburg Baseball Shuttle will pick you up from downtown and drop you off at Tropicana Field for every home game of the 2018 season. Buses, mini buses and trolleys will be providing the shuttle service, which runs approximately every five minutes. 

The shuttle service is free and will run from 2 p.m. until one hour after the game is over. Shuttle stops include: 

  • Second Street South between Central Avenue & First Avenue South (under the pedestrian bridge connecting the Office Tower and Parking Garage). Motorists may park in the garage by entering from 1st Avenue South between 1st and 2nd Streets
  • 16th St just south of 3rd Ave S


The St. Pete Trolley also offers a shuttle service starting 90 minutes prior to the beginning of the game until one hour after the game is over. 

The service runs approximately every 10 minutes. Click here for the printable route map.


The stadium gates open at 2 p.m. and players will be at Gate 1 greeting fans for the first few minutes. 

While the Rays were away at spring training, Shaw Sports Turf installed a new playing surface at Tropicana Field, the sixth surface in 21 seasons. The team also invested $7 million in capital improvements to Tropicana Field over the offseason, with an aim to dramatically overhaul the food, beverage and retail experience. 

ICYMI: 2018 Grapefruit League Spring Training - Charlotte Sports Park (Rays)

The changes include modernized “food halls” in the first- and third-base concourses and major updates to the center field experience, including the Porch and the Rays Republic Team Store. New specialty stands include Pressed (Center Field Street), Central Burger (First and Third Base Food Halls), Fresh Mex (Right Field Street) and Rocco’s Ball Deli (First Base Food Hall). 


  • Thursday will be the first time in 50 years that every major league club opened on the same day
  • Tampa Bay is 10–10 in season openers as well as 10–10 in home openers
  • It’s the ninth straight year the Rays have opened the schedule at home, tying Oakland for the longest active streak in the AL
    • The only major league team with a longer current streak is Cincinnati, where it is tradition — the Reds are playing their 28th consecutive Opening Day at home this year
  • This is the 14th time overall the Rays have opened the season at home, and they are 7–6 in the previous 13 games
  • After last year’s 7–3 win over the Yankees, the Rays are attempting to win back-to-back Opening Day games for the first time since winning five straight in 2000–2004
  • This will be the third time the Rays have hosted the Red Sox for their home opener
  • The Rays will be part of three home openers to begin the season, as they will help open Yankee Stadium (Monday, April 2) and Fenway Park (Thursday, April 5) the following week
  • March 29 will represent the earliest calendar start to a season in major league history, excluding off-site special events
  • It’s the earliest the Rays have ever played their season opener, topping March 30, 2004, when they opened at the Tokyo Dome against the New York Yankees


All fans in attendance will receive a schedule magnet and 20th-anniversary cowbell, while supplies last. Click here for more information.

Related: Tampa Chamber of Commerce hosting a discussion on the proposed Ybor City stadium site for the Rays


The Rays continue to be the only major pro sports team in Florida to allow fans to bring food and select beverages to games.


Chris Archer will be on the mound for the fourth consecutive Opening Day. On the other side, the Red Sox will throw LHP Chris Sale. 

The Rays finished the 2017 season in third place with a 80-82 record, while the Red Sox finished first in the division with a 93-69 record. 

The Red Sox won their second-straight American League East title, the first time they have ever won the division two years in a row. It was their 9th division title overall. 

Click here for more information about Opening Day 2018.