Rays ready for '17 Fan Fest on Feb. 4

More than 40 Major League alumni expected to attend

Rays ready for '17 Fan Fest on Feb. 4

ST. PETERSBURG -- Fan Fest is just around the corner, which means the 2017 season is close.

The 2017 Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest is set for Feb. 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field.

As usual, Rays season-ticket holders will be granted early entry at 10 a.m., and admission and parking will be free.

While more than 60 current and former Major League players and coaches are expected to attend, the turnout among Rays players is not expected to be as strong as in season's past due to the early date of this year's Fan Fest.

Raymond puts moves on display

The Rays had to conduct the yearly baseball celebration earlier due to scheduling conflicts. Since Spring Training camp will not yet be open, some players will still be at their winter homes and won't be able to attend. But plenty of current Tampa Bay players will still be attending -- highlighted by Chris Archer, Kevin Kiermaier, Jake Odorizzi and Steven Souza Jr. The Rays wanted to be up front with their fans in explaining why fewer players will be on hand than in years past.

Raymond and DJ Kitty will be on hand and there will be plenty of free activities that fans can take advantage of, such as being able to take photos in Tampa Bay's dugout then taking a tour of the team's clubhouse facilities.

More than 40 Major League alumni will be signing autographs for free throughout the day. Also, fans have the opportunity to compete against Rays players at numerous tailgate games, including 22-player foosball, pop-a-shot, air hockey, giant Jenga, ping pong and more.

Kids activities will include Reading with the Rays, speed pitch, batting cages and home run derby in the Interactive Zone, and baseball clinics in the infield. Kids will be able to run the bases and there will be a high five station with Rays players.

Kids ages 14 and under can get a free membership to the Rays Rookies Kids Club. And to promote Reading with the Rays, the club's summer reading program, a Rays player will read select stories on the Main Stage.

Entertainment on the Main Stage will be ongoing throughout the day. In addition, the stage will also feature "Rays Rookies" TV hosts Zach and Kayla, a Raymond entertainment show and panels with Rays coaches, broadcasters and team executives.

The Rays will use their social media accounts to give fans opportunities for team and player interaction and exclusive prizes through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat contests during Fan Fest.

The team's official Twitter account, @RaysBaseball, will serve as a communication hub where fans can get up-to-date information on events happening throughout the day and answers to questions about Fan Fest. Fans can also visit the Social Media Zone for photo opportunities with Rays trophies and awards, players and oversized emojis.

Fans can purchase unique, game-used and autographed memorabilia at the Rays Charity Yard Sale. For the first time, all items featured in the 162 Landing area of the Charity Yard Sale will be available for $5 each. All proceeds benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation. In addition, Don Zimmer collectibles will be available for purchase at the Clubhouse Corner, with all proceeds benefiting the Clearwater For Youth Don Zimmer Memorial Scholarship. Fans will also have the opportunity to bid on exclusive Rays experiences at the Clubhouse Corner Silent Auction.

To date, Rays Fan Fest has raised more than $465,000, allowing the Foundation to support youth and educational programming in the Tampa Bay region. Fans may also register for a Tampa Bay Rays branded license plate. All fans who register for a plate at Fan Fest will receive a ticket voucher for a 2017 home game. A portion of the proceeds from license plate sales benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation and the Florida Sports Foundation.

Representatives from the Rays' ticket sales department will be available to assist fans throughout the day in the purchase of season tickets, Flex Packs, group tickets, Spring Training tickets, party areas, suite rentals and special ticket offers.

Season-ticket holders will have the exclusive opportunity to purchase autograph passes. They will receive an email with instructions on how to purchase the passes. For $100, each autograph pass will include one autograph from three Rays players, with proceeds benefiting the ALS Association Florida Chapter. Season-ticket holders will also be able to access the Republic Bank Draft Room club area which will feature a photo station to have their pictures taken with Rays players, complimentary refreshments and hors d'oeuvres, alumni player appearances and more.

Season-ticket holders who attend Fan Fest will also receive a credit loaded onto their Rays Card that can be used on concessions and merchandise on the day of Fan Fest.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.