Rays Seek Attendance Boost with Student Rush deal

The Tampa Bay Rays are hoping to give their college-aged fans more bang for their buck.

For the first time, the Rays are offering Student Rush tickets to fans 18 or older with a high school or college ID.  Students can get lower level seats every Friday night for just $15.

Rays vice president of communications Rick Vaughn said the team is targeting a different type of fan each day.

“On Monday, we hand out free tickets for military veterans on Military Monday,” Vaughn said. “For all Tuesday home games, kids 14 and under can get in for $2, and Wednesday we sell two dollar hot dogs. For Thursday, all seniors 60 years of age or older will receive a discounted ticket, and of course Friday is Student Rush.”

Vaughn said the Rays are in the upper third of major league baseball television ratings.

As for actual game attendance? Not so much. In 2015, Tampa Bay ranked last in the league, averaging just over 15,000 fans per game in a stadium that can fit up to 42,000.

Though the Rays are uncertain of how many students will attend the Friday games, they expect to average 2,000 to 3,000 students each week. Vaughn said if fans make the trip and show support of the deal, they will see there is more to do than just watch the game.

“We have the Ted Williams Baseball Museum,” Vaughn said. “It’s free with the purchase of a game ticket. We also have the ray tank in centerfield where we are supported by the Florida Aquarium.”

As for the students? They said the discount is something that should not be overlooked.

“For a student, this is a good opportunity to get out and do things around the Tampa Bay area without having to break your wallet,” said Aaron, a student from the University of Tampa.

Vaughn and the Rays hope promotions like Student Rush will help provide a much-needed boost in attendance.

For Bay area college students, this is one deal that is sure to be a home run.

“It’s great,” said Spencer, a student from the University of South Florida. “Since I work and I’m saving money, $15 for a Rays game is my kind of deal.”

 

Bulls for Kids dances for dollars

William Purkey said, “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching.” Bulls for Kids President Tiffani Torres and over 1,300 participants embraced dancing for charity during Dance Marathon at the USF Marshall Student Center.

“All the hard work that I’ve done, and all the tears and all the stress is worth it because no matter what I’m going through right now it could be a lot worse,” Torres said. “What I’m going through is making what they’re going through a lot easier.”

Dance Marathon has members shake it for 12 hours while raising money for the All Children’s Hospitals across the country. What began as a small fundraiser 13 years ago has now turned into USF’s largest student-run philanthropy. Dance Marathon has continued to grow with every donation amount higher than the year before.

By the end of the day, Bulls for Kids collected over $130,000. That’s $27,000 more than last year’s record. Torres knows it’s not just about the money. The event’s real purpose comes from the emotional stories of the miracle children.

Alyson Schuch served as the director of family relations and was able to work hands-on with the miracle families throughout the year. Although the donations are great, Schuch said her satisfaction comes from seeing the children’s smiling faces.

“Not everyone realizes the huge impact that we have on the families,” Schuch said. “When they do come and they speak and they give their thanks, it’s like very eye-opening to everyone.”

With such a large total collected this year, Bulls for Kids hopes to raise over $200,000 next year.

Spicing up Valentine’s Day for our veterans

 

Love is in the air, and it’s also in the alley.

Zephyrhills resident Tami Beverlin has started a campaign called Valentines for Veterans. The effort focuses on making valentines for wounded veterans at James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital in Tampa. Beverlin’s idea culminated in this event at Pin Chasers. Kids of all ages were invited to participate.

“I wanted to do something for the older vets that are at the nursing homes and the ones that are coming back, the ones that are in the hospital,” Beverlin said. “Just to say, you know, ‘we appreciate you.’”

Each participant received a free game of bowling for taking part in the initiative. Beverlin was encouraged to have the event here by her daughter Aubrey Ogilbee, who’s also the bowling center’s general manager.

“There’s no better person to work with than family that you love and care about,” Ogilbee said. “You know each other. There’s, you know, no communication issues because you already know exactly how you each communicate and what your strengths and weaknesses are.”

Beverlin collected over 800 cards throughout the month-long campaign. She hopes the event becomes annual so veterans can continue to feel this love for years to come.

“You don’t feel like you can do anything,” Beverlin said. “You can do something. You can just get involved in your own community. You can start changing the ‘I’ thinking to the ‘we’ thinking.”