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Devil Rays Charge Band Members $6

October 5, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ The Devil Rays apparently feel it’s such an honor to play the national anthem before Tampa Bay’s games that high school band members should pay $6 each for the privilege.

St. Petersburg High School refused to play before Sunday’s season finale after team officials told them they would have to pay $6 each to enter Tropicana Field. The band had been invited to play the anthem after the 75 members sold 203 Devil Rays tickets as part of a fund-raiser, making $406 for the band.

They didn’t want to spend it all to perform.

``I was insulted,″ principal Linda Benware said. ``We’re an inner-city school. There’s no way you could convince me those kids should have to pay to play the national anthem at a baseball game.″

Devil Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said if some students couldn’t afford the $6, the team would have waived their fee.

``If there was a problem, we would have helped them out,″ Vaughn said. ``But they just told us they weren’t coming. I feel bad that the kids didn’t get a chance to play.″

He said Bradenton’s Lakewood Ranch High School played at Saturday’s game and its members didn’t have a problem paying the $6.

But Lakewood Ranch band director Bob Schaer said he thought the charge was unfair, ``but that’s just the way it is.″

``The kids enjoyed playing,″ he said. ``We stayed about 3 1/2 innings and then we had to go.″

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