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04/26/08 8:44 PM ET

Rays are baseball's best value

ESPN measures prices of tickets, parking, concessions

ST. PETERSBURG -- According to an ESPN survey of more than 40,000 fans, the Rays rank first in the Major Leagues in the affordability category.

The category is defined as the price of tickets, parking and concessions. The Rays ranked third in all of professional sports, behind the NBA's New Orleans Hornets and the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.

"We take pride in the affordability of the gameday experience at Tropicana Field," said Matt Silverman, Rays team president. "We want as many kids and parents coming out to baseball here as possible, and affordability is a key factor in their decisions."

Silverman said that the team has always strived to be among the most affordable, "especially in these challenging economic times, when the families may be choosing to vacation less or vacation closer to home. The ballpark provides another option, an affordable one, that's a great time."

Here's a look at why attending a game at Tropicana Field is so affordable:

• Cars carrying four or more people park for free.

• College students can get select tickets for just $5 for Friday-night games.

• Most Friday home games feature dollar hot dogs.

• Through the Rays Rookies Kids Club, kids 14 and under receive an upper-deck ticket for four home games, a T-shirt, a baseball and headphones for $20.

• All Sundays are Family Fun Days, presented by the St. Pete Times, and feature select tickets, soft drinks, a hot dog and a snack for just $15.

• With Bright House Saturdays, fans show their Bright House cable bill at the box office and get two upper-level tickets, two sodas and two hot dogs for just $25 for any Saturday-night home game.

• Tickets are as low as $9 for most games.

• Tropicana Field tickets also include admission to the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, and the Rays touch tank.

• Attendance at the Rays Summer Postgame Concert Series, held on Saturdays from June through August, is free with a game ticket. Performers include Trace Adkins, LL Cool J, The Commodores, MC Hammer and Kool & The Gang.

By making Tropicana Field more affordable, Silverman believes the Rays are helping tourism, too.

"Tampa Bay is a great destination for visitors," he said. "Tampa and St. Petersburg offer so many things, and we're one of those offerings, especially at night during the summertime. If [visitors are] looking for something to do, baseball at Tropicana Field is an affordable option. That has to factor in when visitors are deciding where they want to go. And if we can help make Tampa Bay a better tourist destination, then we're doing our job for the community."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.