Every summer the Tampa Bay Rays try to shake things up with their "School Pride" College Days. They have a different day for each of the local universities that have strong relations to the Tampa Bay Area including Florida State University (FSU), University of Florida (UF), University of South Florida (USF), and University of Tampa (UT). Tickets are $38, which gets you get special seating in a lower level section with all the other fans from your school, as well as a commemorative gift that includes your school colors with one of the Rays logos.

Some of the more local schools even have a co-branded hat with a mashup of both logos which is pretty cool. The exclusive gifts are usually collectible hats or tumblers and are totally worth the price of admission. A great way to support your school and your local baseball team all year long! 

Here are the details for which days you can hang out with your university (or avoid your rivals) at Tropicana Field.

Chop at the Trop: June 9th at 4:10 pm

Against the Seattle Mariners ($65 value)

Deadline to purchase tickets is June 7th at 11:59 pm


Chomp at the Trop: July 21st at 6:10 pm

Against the Miami Marlins ($70 value)

Deadline to purchase tickets is July 19th at 11:59 pm

University of Tampa Day: July 22nd at 1:10 pm

Against the Miami Marlins ($75 value)

Deadline to purchase tickets is July 19th at 11:59 pm

USF Day: August 26th at 1:10 pm

Against the Boston Red Sox ($75 value)

Deadline to purchase tickets is August 23rd at 11:59 pm

These events started with USF, which has both Tampa and St. Pete campuses, and this is the first year that the University of Tampa is involved.

I spoke with Dan Newhart, Director of Sales for the Rays and he says they are also working on getting a University of Central Florida Day as it is becoming more of a demand. "The idea is to promote a partnership between these schools and the Rays for the benefit of both partners and their collective community," says Dan. He expresses the idea that the organizers of these days want to hear what ideas the schools have to make it new and fun for all involved whether that means they have someone from the university sing the national anthem, throw the first pitch, bring their mascot to run around with Raymond (lookin' at you Rocky The Bull), or have their cheerleaders involved in the production.

Groups of 10 or more will receive an additional discount, preferred seating, and a scrolling scoreboard welcome. For more information or to place your group order call 727-825-3107 or email groupsales@raysbaseball.com.

Since many of these schools are athletically as well as academically motivated, especially in baseball and softball, these partnerships are mutually beneficial in regards to recruiting, fundraising, and strengthening bonds between the universities and their professional players and coaches. They also allow the schools to run some of their commercials or promotions to get some publicity as well as play the fight songs and war chants. So if cool merch and a day watching baseball with all your friends wasn't enough incentive, think of all the additional benefits there are to supporting both of your home teams. 

College Days at the Rays are just a few of the special events the team hosts at The Trop, so keep an eye out for Pride Night, Military and other Service Days, and even Dog Day at the Rays. They do all kinds of deals for larger parties and groups as well if your school is not on this list (yet) but is interested in participating too! There are $2 Hot Dog Tuesdays, days that kids can run the bases, school days for local grade schools, and all kinds of other fun events and surprises at Tropicana Field that are always being invented and improved year to year. Ultimately everyone I talked to from the staff at The Rays excitedly strives to get people to come out and enjoy themselves, not just for the ticket sales but of the benefit of our team and our ever-growing community. So let's (watch them) PLAY BALL!

Looking for more great events in both the 813area and 727area? Be sure to register for both sites, it's free!

Photo courtesy of City of St. Petersburg Flickr page.