ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay continues to live up to the Champa Bay nickname. The Tampa Bay Rays are the latest local team to advance to the playoffs, which kick off on Thursday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
It’s exciting for Hermi Herrick of Plant City, who said she’s watched every game since 1998.
“Every time they play, I’m right there in front of that TV set,” Herrick said.
Even when she can’t make it to the Trop, the 89-year-old said she still makes sure her voice carries.
“I rave and yell and everything like I’m at the game,” she said with a laugh.
On Monday, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor unveiled a large Rays banner outside city hall and said, “We may be looking at yet another boat parade in Tampa Bay.”
The Buccaneers recently won the Super Bowl and the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. If the Rays can win the World Series, it would be the first time any city has had three teams win the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, and World Series in the same calendar year!
At Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill, employees are stocking up for the postseason.
“We’ve got tons of beer and tons of food coming in. It helps everybody. Servers. Bartenders. Busboys. It helps the economy which we all need help right now,” owner Mark Ferguson said.
But, the postseason excitement will again be overshadowed by looming questions about where the team will play once their contract is up in 2027. Rays leaders have recently spent time pitching their sister city plan split between St. Pete and Montreal.
Karla Wurr, a longtime Rays fan, doesn’t like the concept.
“I just want to keep them here. We enjoy it and have a great time,” she added.
Most fans say they’d rather focus on the here and now and cheering the hometown team all the way to the World Series.
“If they don’t cheer, something is wrong with ‘em! We gotta cheer our team no matter what,” Herrick told ABC Action News with a laugh.
There are two watch parties planned as well. Both will take place Sunday, October 10th and Monday, October 11th (if necessary) on both sides of the bay at the Tampa Theatre and the St. Pete Pier.
The Rays will play the winner of the New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox Wild Card Game Tuesday night. Tampa was 11-7 against the Yankees this season and 11-8 against the Boston Red Sox, both AL East rivals.