Photopost: Tropicana Field


On our vacation to Universal Orlando, my son and I took a side trip to see the Boston Red Sox play the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.  This is the 13th current Major League Baseball ballpark where I’ve attended a game in addition to 6 former stadiums.  It was my son’s 6th ballpark.

The Rays are the defending American League champions and currently have he best record in the American League, but still draw a small crowd on a Thursday night in September.

The first thing we learned is that the Tampa Bay region is larger than I realized.  We got to downtown Tampa and it was a still a 30 minute drive to St. Petersburg.  I thought the cities were right next to one another.  I noticed exit signs for the home venues of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in downtown Tampa and I wonder if the Rays’ low attendance problems have anything to do with being so far away from the rest of the local teams. Of course, Tropicana Field is also generally poorly regarded among MLB ballparks, which probably contributes to attendance problems.  At any rate, after driving through several rain squalls we arrived in sunny St. Pete where a rainbow pointed towards The Trop’s tilted dome.  It was an impressive introduction!

From our seats out in left field behind the Red Sox bullpen.

Even though the Rays are one of the newest MLB expansion teams, Tropicana Field is actually the 8th oldest currently MLB ballpark.  It opened in 1990 and hosted NHL hockey and Arena Football before 1998 when the Rays played their inaugural season. Tropicana Field is the only current MLB venue with a fixed roof.  I think only the Rays and Blue Jays play home games on artificial turf instead of grass, which is quite a difference from the 1980s when about half of the ballparks had artificial turf.I noticed during the game that ground balls would zip along the artificial turf into the outfield (and sometimes past the outfielders) which is quite a difference to how grass slows a ball down.  During the game I heard a sound that I thought was people stomping their feet, which was strange since the game was sparsely attended (the official attendance was 7,923 souls).  My son pointed out that it was actually the sound of rain falling on the roof.  Since the roof is made of some kind of fabric, we could actually see it billowing as the rain ran down the exterior.

One of the highlights of The Trop is a touch tank with actual cownose stingrays who get a great view of the game and are protected from home runs by netting.

It’s hard to judge a stadium when there’s no home crowd, but Tropicana Field feels too sterile and lifeless for a baseball game.  I have to give credit to the Rays management for trying hard to improve the fan experience.  There was a good food court with a lot of options, on-field entertainment between innings, and some nifty lighting on the underside of the dome that made it different colors (including making it look like a giant orange).  The Rays are a talented, first-place ballclub and deserve a packed house.  But ultimately, no matter what they do with it, The Trop is just never going to be an inviting place to take in a game.

A mid-inning mascot race was very short and not as fun as the Nationals’ Presidents Race or the Brewers’ Sausage Race.

The game we saw by the way was really good, an old-fashioned pitching duel. The Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez has his best start of the season and Garrett Richards pitched the final three innings to preserve a shutout.  Although, the Rays starter Shane McClanahan allowed four runs but was never really hit hard.  The game moved briskly and finished just after 10pm, so we had plenty of time to drive back to Orlando before midnight.

 

The player intro videos for the Red Sox included landmarks from Boston which I thought was a nice touch.

 

Eduardo Rodriguez warms up before the game.

 

Rafael Devers is close to scoring one of the Red Sox 4 runs.

 

Recovering a shattered bat from the infield.

Current ballpark rankings.

  1. Wrigley Field
  2. Fenway Park
  3. Oracle Park
  4. Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  5. Petco Park
  6. Citi Field
  7. Nationals Park
  8. Miller Field
  9. Dodger Stadium
  10. Citizens Bank Park
  11. Guaranteed Rate Field
  12. Yankee Stadium III
  13. Tropicana Field

Former ballpark rankings

  1. Tigers Stadium
  2. Shea Stadium
  3. Yankees Stadium II
  4. RFK Stadium
  5. Stade Olympique
  6. Veterans Stadium

3 thoughts on “Photopost: Tropicana Field

  1. I haven’t been to a game there yet- not surprised at your low ranking of the place. It doesn’t come across well on television. The team needs moved- it’s sad where they have one of the best teams in baseball and their attendance is even worse than my Pirates who- have a terrible team and a fan base totally turned off by a cheapskate owner who is just lining his pockets. .. Like your ranking of Tigers Stadium- my all time favorite ballpark of the 35 present and past parks I’ve seen games at.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I made a special trip to Tiger Stadium during the final season and it was such a treasure. Sad about the Pirates. Such a historic club who were always good when I was a kid.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad you made that trip to Tiger Stadium before the end. What prompted me to ‘collect’ ballparks- was missing out on old Comiskey in the early 90’s..

        Liked by 1 person

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