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Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014
Rays

Rays fans irked when cars towed from 'official' lot

TBO.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 02:51 AM

Tampa Bay Rays fans enjoyed Friday's win over the New York Yankees, but more than a dozens fans felt their hearts sink when they returned to a parking lot near Tropicana Field and saw their cars were gone.

Rays fan Stephanie Arnett, who drove to St. Petersburg from Sarasota, said it was a perfect Opening Day until she and her husband walked back to their car.

"There was police officers and a group of people and no cars," she said.

Arnett said the lot had a designated special-events parking sign. The city of St. Petersburg's website still says it's an official place to park. So no one thought twice about paying $20 to leave their car at the site.

"The person who waved us in had a red flag and Rays gear on and directed us to somebody else to park in the parking spot," she said.

While the fans were watching the game, tow trucks removed all 14 cars and they ended up at A-1 Recovery.

Fans had to each pay more than $100 to get their cars back.

"I don't know why the towing company would choose to tow all of these cars and not think something was up," Arnett said.

A-1 owner Aaron Watkins said he was just following orders from property manager Mike Shinshoni, and had Shinshoni's secretary sign every ticket.

Shinshoni said he didn't know it was a designated lot until he got a call from WFLA-TV's 8 on Your Side.

It turns out a scooter shop tenant Shinshoni evicted last fall obtained the parking permit but he was gone by Opening Day.

So now the focus is on the parking attendants.

"Her hair is in a ponytail, curly, long, looked normal, and she directed us to a gentleman - older gentleman. He was on crutches actually," Arnett said.

Arnett added that if she could find the man and woman who took her money, she would say, "Thanks a lot."

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