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Morgan

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« #45 : April 06, 2013, 03:57:45 PM »

Tropicana Field: All dome and gloom


Baseball enthusiasts enjoy discussing the venues of their pastime far more than the fans of other sports.

That's why Sports Weekly is launching a new series "In the Ballpark" that will run throughout the season and feature a different major league stadium every week, as we count down from the worst of the 30 parks to the best.

Joe Mock from BaseballParks.com will be the official tour guide, following the format he uses for the in-depth reviews that appear on his website, which is affiliated with USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties.

Over the last 15 years, Mock has been reviewing and photographing ballparks. He has visited 200 of the current 203 ballparks in use for the major leagues, spring training and the affiliated minors. He is the author of "Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide" and numerous articles.

Each review will detail:

    The stadium's location.
    Overview of its exterior features.
    Breakdown of the architectural elements inside the park.
    Key amenities for the fans.
    Future outlook for the park.

We start the series with No. 30 – yes, that's the last place park, Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

***

Highly respected sports economist Andrew Zimbalist doesn't think much of Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays — and he is far from alone.

"The Trop is a bad facility in a bad location," he recently told the Tampa Bay Times. "The team performed over the last five years as well as any team, (yet) it still has the lowest attendance in baseball."

Despite severe payroll constraints, the Rays have remained in contention in the highly competitive American League East. Where, then, are the fans?

Blame the stadium. To put it mildly, the aesthetics of Tropicana Field leave much to be desired, landing the domed facility in last place in our countdown of the 30 major league parks.

How did it come to be this way? In the 1980s, Florida had no major league team to call its own, though numerous teams held spring training there. St. Petersburg wanted to land a franchise and decided to build a stadium to attract one.

The plan almost worked, as the Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants all considered moving. But all three ended up in new stadiums in their current markets.

St. Pete's Suncoast Dome (as it was known at the time) sat as a "$200 million warning against counting one's chickens before they hatch," Gary Gillette and Eric Enders noted in Big League Ballparks, The Complete Illustrated History.

Finally, the expansion Devil Rays arrived in 1998, and along with the team the stadium received its new name and $70 million in renovations. The outlook for baseball on the Gulf Coast looked rosy and stable, especially since the franchise agreed to a 30-year lease.

The team's futility on the field matched the gloomy stadium interior. Attendance figures were so poor that the team eventually covered most of the uppermost seats to reduce the seating capacity. Even when the team became competitive starting in 2008, crowds were small. The Rays' desire for a new ballpark grew stronger and stronger and continues.

***

INSIDE TROPICANA FIELD: SITE

Ten blocks from the spring training ballpark once known as Al Lang Field, the domed stadium was constructed on the site of an old coal gasification plant, at the intersection of Interstates 275 and 175. Downtown Tampa, the area's largest concentration of population, is more than 20 miles away, however.

EXTERIOR

A slanted dome sits atop nondescript walls. The roof is illuminated with orange lights after a Rays victory.

INTERIOR

Once inside, you can't help but notice the drab ceiling that is supported by rings of catwalks that, unfortunately, are often struck by batted balls. The entry rotunda is nice, and renovations over the years have created improved eating areas and upscale club areas. The bullpen locations also have drawn criticism, because of how close they are to the field down the foul lines. The covered seats in the upper deck are a constant reminder that the Rays can't fill the place.

FAN AMENITIES

Eating options have improved steadily over the years, and above the team store there's now a cigar bar that includes leather couches and top-of-the-line liquor. It is the only major league ballpark with a cigar bar. Smoking cigarettes is not allowed in the ballpark.

New video screens improve the experience of watching a game, plus the unique Rays Touch Tank beyond the outfield allows fans to reach into a 10,000-gallon tank and touch the cownose rays that are swimming within. It is free to touch them but costs $5 to feed them.

Best of all, the Ted Williams Museum is now located within the Trop, and fans can visit it for free before and during games with a ticket.

THE FUTURE

If the Rays are forced to honor the lease that runs through 2027, the franchise might not survive, at least not in St. Pete. A new park is needed, and soon.

The search for an acceptable site in the Tampa Bay area has taken many twists and turns in recent years, including a proposal to build a retractable-roof ballpark on the site of Al Lang Field. That proposal, as well as numerous others, has fallen through. All the while, attendance suffers.

"Although the Rays ownership have done a good job enhancing the fan experience while putting a very good team on the field, Tropicana Field was designed as a multipurpose facility well over 30 years ago," observed Joe Spear, senior principal at Populous, which designed the stadium back when the architecture firm was known as HOK.

He added that the Trop "lacks many of the things baseball fans across the league expect today. It seems clear that (the Rays) in a next-generation ballpark would see much higher attendance."


It's interesting that Tropicana Field holds the distinction of many firsts and lasts.

It was the first stadium to have FieldTurf installed, as well as the first to host all of the following: the NCAA Final Four, the NHL, college football and Major League Baseball.

On the other side of the ledger, the Trop is the last baseball stadium with a fixed dome, as Phoenix, Toronto, Houston, Minneapolis, Seattle and Miami all have retractable roofs.

Another "last" for the Trop: last in our rankings.

***

THE BASICS

Where: 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg, FL 33705

Architect: HOK Sport (now called Populous)

Cost to build: $130 million

First MLB game: March 31, 1998

Capacity: 34,078

Ticket info: Call 888-FAN-RAYS; online at RaysBaseball.com/tickets; or at the stadium box offices located at Gate 1 and Gate 4 or the Rays Tampa Pro Shop & Ticket Outlet at 400 N. Tampa St. in downtown Tampa.

Ticket price range: $19-$300

2012 average attendance: 19,255 (30th in the majors)

***

FOOD FAVORITE

All ballparks have wide selections of food and beverages, but each has a signature item that usually reflects the local flavor: Rays Cuban Sandwich

Symbolic of the nearby Ybor City neighborhood in Tampa, this local favorite features sliced ham, pork and Genoa salami on toasted Cuban bread with Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. The sandwich is grilled flat. Available throughout the ballpark at all Grand Slam Grill, East/West Deli and Diamond Classics locations.



http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/rays/2013/04/06/tampa-bay-rays-tropicana-field-no-30-rank-mlb-ballparks/2058289/

olafberserker

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« #46 : April 06, 2013, 11:40:57 PM »

32K+ tonight, but who's counting

Morgan

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« #47 : April 07, 2013, 05:21:11 AM »

http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance

Morgan

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« #48 : April 10, 2013, 10:32:19 PM »

I think Ben Zobrist is my favorite Tampa Bay Rays player.......


http://www.raysindex.com/2013/04/great-throw-by-ben-zobrist-and-block-by-lobaton-preserves-lead-for-rays.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+RaysIndex+%28Rays+Index%29&utm_content=My+Yahoo

Morgan

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« #49 : April 12, 2013, 05:04:36 PM »

Game rained out tonight vs Bosox

olafberserker

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« #50 : April 12, 2013, 08:27:58 PM »

http://deadspin.com/red-soxs-sellout-streak-ends-472510787


It was kept alive by means both creative and benevolent. Standing room tickets counted in the total but not against the stadium's capacity; tickets donated to local charities, even if not used, went toward the attendance figure. The hundreds or thousands of tickets withering on the secondary market, going for less than the price of a beer, or perhaps not being re-sold at all, were allowed to count.
 
The Phillies' similarly goosed streak came to an end last year, when the empty seats made it farcical to pretend otherwise. They realized then what Boston's front office did over the winter: a sellout streak consisting of non-sellouts isn't a point of pride, but a very public embarrassment.

Morgan

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« #51 : April 15, 2013, 06:00:03 PM »


Rays, Red Sox at Fenway Park at time of explosion




The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox were both at Fenway Park, preparing for their respective trips to Logan Airport, when an explosion occurred in Copley Square near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Rays outfielder Sam Fuld tweeted that the team was on the bus at the time of the explosion, and Tampa Bay Times reporter Marc Topkin said the club was on the way to the airport for its flight to Baltimore, where the Rays begin a series with the Orioles on Tuesday.

A Red Sox player confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that the team was still inside the stadium at the time of the explosion. The Red Sox were scheduled to fly out to Cleveland on Monday.

The teams played the traditional Patriots' Day morning game, which started at 11 a.m. in conjunction with the marathon. The game, won by the Red Sox, concluded around 2:10 p.m., some 40 minutes before the estimated time of explosion.

The Rays confirmed their flight made it out of Logan Airport before the Federal Aviation Administration halted flights in and out of the airport.

usatoday.com

Morgan

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« #52 : April 17, 2013, 10:21:48 PM »

13k at Camden Yards? Lots of empty seats last night as well....guess Rays are the only franchise with attendance issues.

Morgan

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« #53 : April 22, 2013, 05:52:06 PM »

Revis will throw out the first pitch tonight. Hope he doesn't screw up the knee coming off the mound.........

New Bucs CB Darrelle Revis to throw out first pitch at Rays game

The Tampa Bay Rays wasted no time in trying to fill some seats for the three-game set against their American League East rivals the New York Yankees.

According to the team’s Twitter feed, they invited new Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for tonight’s game. The Rays have averaged 22,634 for their nine home games so far this season.

Revis agreed to a new six-year deal with the Bucs is worth $96 million, but reportedly none of it is guaranteed. Too bad he doesn’t play baseball where most of the contracts are guaranteed.

 
http://tracking.si.com/2013/04/22/buccaneers-darrelle-revis-throw-out-first-pitch/

Dolorous Jason

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« #54 : April 22, 2013, 05:57:21 PM »

Take note when Revis walks out on the mound tonight , Jew Sternberg ....not all our owners are too cheap to pay decent players .

What is your point? I was wrong? Ok. You win. I was wrong.

           

Morgan

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« #55 : April 22, 2013, 06:04:35 PM »

Take note when Revis walks out on the mound tonight , Jew Sternberg ....not all our owners are too cheap to pay decent players .

offensive

Dolorous Jason

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« #56 : April 22, 2013, 06:09:28 PM »

Take note when Revis walks out on the mound tonight , Jew Sternberg ....not all our owners are too cheap to pay decent players .

offensive

That's his name isn't it ? Oh it's Stew ?? My bad . :P

What is your point? I was wrong? Ok. You win. I was wrong.

           

Morgan

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« #57 : April 22, 2013, 08:05:00 PM »

Take note when Revis walks out on the mound tonight , Jew Sternberg ....not all our owners are too cheap to pay decent players .

offensive

That's his name isn't it ? Oh it's Stew ?? My bad . :P

Glazers are Jewish - spending a lot of money today. Kind of ruins your theory, doesn't it?

Morgan

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« #58 : April 22, 2013, 08:23:56 PM »


Dolorous Jason

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« #59 : April 22, 2013, 08:35:26 PM »

Take note when Revis walks out on the mound tonight , Jew Sternberg ....not all our owners are too cheap to pay decent players .

offensive

That's his name isn't it ? Oh it's Stew ?? My bad . :P

Glazers are Jewish - spending a lot of money today. Kind of ruins your theory, doesn't it?

What theory ? That little Stuey has an easy name to make fun of for a cheap guy ?


...and what a sad pathtic cheer in an empty stadium. Revis shouldn't have bothered going over there.

What is your point? I was wrong? Ok. You win. I was wrong.

           
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