ST. PETERSBURG, FL -- Before the first pitch was even thrown for Tampa Bay Rays opening day, business owners in downtown St. Petersburg knew they would be big winners from all the customers.
Central Avenue was flooded with Rays fans and a few of those Yankees fans, too.
With Major League Baseball back, it could mean a homerun for the growing area.
“It's been pretty busy, but when we have the rays come into town it, just adds the Rays fans,” said Bill Georgiou.
Georgiou is the owner of The Burg Bar and Grill, a fan restaurant and benefactor of baseball season.
“When it does get a little bit slower, the Rays bring in a lot more people. We love it, we don't want them ever leaving,” he said.
This marks the 20th season for the Rays. Luis Garcia has been a fan from the beginning. He's seen the affect the team has had on revitalizing downtown St. Pete.
“I used to go downtown and drive through and literally there'd be cardboards in all the windows and so to see it have life now, it's really a great thing,” Garcia said.
Business owners are enjoying it while they can. The Rays - still weighing option on whether to stay put at Tropicana Field or score a new home somewhere else in the Bay Area.
“We want them to stay, we don't want them to go anywhere.”
But, for now, the team and fans are focusing on the new season, which got off to a great start.