For almost a decade, the Tampa Bay Rays have called Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL, home. However, in recent years, attendance at the stadium has steadily gone down. The stadium needs renovations, and, though they show tremendous support for their home team, the majority of Rays fans live more than 30 minutes away from Tropicana Field, making it difficult for them to attend games regularly.
The Rays asked St. Petersburg’s city council to allow the Major League Baseball team to search for a new location within the Tampa/St. Petersburg region to entice fans to return to the games. However, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Chris Steinocher, president of St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, wanted to persuade the Rays to stay at Tropicana Field; so, in addition to offering renovation aid, the summer-long “Baseball Forever” campaign was born.
Kriseman and Steinocher wanted to focus the campaign – which incorporated more than 700 imprinted “Baseball Forever St. Pete” T-shirts – on the St. Petersburg community, offering opportunities for local businesses to grow.
Through word of mouth, city council members connected with a local apparel decorator to design and imprint the baseball- and St. Pete-themed tees. The designer of the shirt says he was thrilled to help promote his hometown. “The mayor used this campaign to get the community behind him and showcase the excellent market in St. Petersburg,” he says.
The screen-printed “Baseball Forever” unisex short-sleeve T-shirts were given out at Sports Bar and Fan Fest, where the mayor spoke about the campaign and its benefits to the community. Fans also garnered the tees before and during baseball games.
The shirts became so popular that St. Petersburg’s Chamber of Commerce ordered more and started selling them at its St. Pete Store & Visitor Center and best of all, it looks like the “Baseball Forever” campaign has been working – the Rays have yet to leave the city of St. Petersburg.