Al Lang Stadium's bittersweet farewell

03/28/08 Arielle Stevenson
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Today thousands filled the seats at Al Lang Stadium one last time to watch the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Cincinnati Reds. With the Rays moving their training facility next year to Charlotte County and no new tenants for next spring, the legacy that began more than 80 years ago is drawing to a close.

City Councilman Jim Kennedy says he’s torn between the prospect of a new stadium on the site and the nostalgia of Al Lang.

Al Lang built the stadium in 1914 and was St. Petersburg’s mayor from 1916-1920. The first team to play there was the St. Louis Browns; in the 1940’s New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals made it into a spring training staple.

Ed watched and played his first ball game in this stadium and says he doesn’t want to see the stadium get torn down.

Amanda is a third generation St. Pete native and has been coming to games since she was a little girl. She says Al Lang is a big part of downtown.

Before supporting a new ballpark Amanda says she needs more information and research done and that isn’t just about the quality of the team but what St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay want as a community.

Leo and his son J.T. have been coming to Al Lang for about six years. Leo says he isn’t sad to see the stadium go and is excited about the Rays Ballpark proposal.

The ceremonial first pitch and the last were thrown by Lang’s great-nephews John and Hugh Fagen. The fate of both stadiums, old Al Lang and the new Rays stadium remain uncertain at this time.

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