St. Petersburg buzzes with weekend of Rays and racing

The Firestone Grand Prix is racing through the streets of downtown while watch parties for the World Series happen across the Bay Area.

Bridgestone America announced Friday that Firestone will be the title sponsor for the Grand Prix through 2023.

With the race sticking around, and the Tampa Bay Rays battling the Dodgers in the World Series, tourism experts say the community is having a big economic impact, despite World Series games not happening at Tropicana Field.

"Every time they're talking about the Rays, the visibility we get, and it's just like what you'll see with the Grand Prix, you're seeing that 'TB' with the Rays, that's valuable exposure for our community and to have it not only nationwide but worldwide," said Steve Hayes, the President and CEO of Visit St. Petersburg-Clearwater.

The Grand Prix is going to have 20,000 people at the race per day throughout the weekend. That's much fewer people compared to before the pandemic, where about 140,000 spectators would be at the event.

Despite the smaller crowd, Hayes says people are still eating at local restaurants, shopping, and staying in hotels.