By Sean Bowes
Imagine packing a cooler with a few cold beers, grabbing lunch at Lee Roy Selmon’s sports bar on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., just north and west of I-75 (exactly one exit south of S.R. 56), and then hopping on a 30-person luxury shuttle bus to be dropped off at Gate 3 outside Tropicana Field to watch a Tampa Bay Rays game. Oh, and the bus ride costs less than $10 roundtrip per person!
It is called the “No Excuses Tour” and it truly is an easy and inexpensive way to get to the ball field. Steve Itsbitts, founder of JoeBucsFan.com, teamed up with Paradise Worldwide Transportation and Lee Roy Selmon’s to create the experience.
John Ponzo, general manager of Lee Roy Selmon’s, says fans are welcome to have food and drink at his restaurant before or after the game, and are free to park in the Selmon’s parking lot for the games.
“It started as an idea to raise attendance at the Trop,” said Itsbitts. “But, we still wanted to keep it inexpensive. We’re not making a lot of money off of this, but it gets people into the games.”
Parking outside of Tropicana Field typically sells for $20-$25, but premium parking spaces can cost as much as $40. “No Excuses” first-time rider and Land O’ Lakes Resident Linda Hitchcock heard about the shuttle from her daughter, a New Tampa resident who enjoyed the convenience of being let off the bus so close to the stadium.
“This is much easier than driving,” said Hitchcock, “You don’t have to look for a (parking) spot either.”
The shuttle leaves from the New Tampa Lee Roy Selmon’s, stops once at another Selmon’s (at the International Plaza near Tampa International Airport, which is a good time to use the bathroom), then heads across the Howard Frankland Bridge to St. Petersburg.
The atmosphere on the bus is a fun one; the passengers I met were all excited about the game and kick their feet up while having drinks and talking about all things baseball. Nearly everyone was surprised at the amenities the bus featured, including two-flat screen TVs, and comfortable leather seats. The ride from New Tampa takes around an hour and 45 minutes, including the stop in south Tampa.
“This is not what I expected,” said New Tampa resident Melissa Uselton, “It is almost like being in a limo.”
However, not every bus from Paradise Transportation comes fully loaded, larger buses with fewer comforts have to be used for popular games with more fans attending, like games against the Yankees or Red Sox.
Alcohol and food brought from home is permitted on each of the buses, but Isbitts stresses that the tour is intended to be a “family friendly” one. Also, Itsbitts warns that passengers must be back on the bus no more than 30 minutes after the final pitch of the game; otherwise, its taxi time.
The “No Excuses Tour” is a great addition for Wesley Chapel and New Tampa residents who want to catch the game and relax on their trip to St. Petersburg, all while saving a few bucks. According to Gasbuddy.com, it would cost more than $10 in fuel costs for a 2010 Honda Accord to make the same trip as “No Excuses,” and then you have to worry about parking.
“I would definitely do this again,” said Uselton.
Tickets for the New Tampa “No Excuses Tour” shuttle to Tropicana Field can be purchased two ways — online at JoeBucsFan.com or the day of the game at Lee Roy Selmon’s. Either way, they are still $9.95 each, with taxes included. Remember to check the website for available games and additional info.