I play a great deal of MLB: The Show and watch a great deal of baseball on TV. From the broadcasts, I honestly expected Tropicana Field to be a dimly lit and sort of a dump. It wasn’t fancy or high tech by any means, HOWEVER, I was very surprised by its simplicity and vibrancy. Of course, we’re in Florida so it’s almost a must to have both a roof and air conditioning, but I consistently intrigued by the engineering masterpiece the ceiling was as it almost looked like it was being suspended by nothing! Plus our seats were right behind the left field foul pole so we got a great view of both the game and of the operation of the ballpark.
I’m Blue: Everything was either white or some shade of blue. OCD in me again was satisfied. The floors. walls, seats, jerseys, people, water, basically everything. There really wasn’t any straying from the overall theme and for a ballpark with not much else going on, I thought it was really unique to be able to utilize the team’s primary color that way. If I’m being honest, it’s probably what it would feel like if Eiffel 65 and E.L. James collaborated on a graphic novel.
Please Remain Seated: This was one of those games where Chad and I didn’t feel the need to walk around the entire stadium 14 times in order to get a feel. The atmosphere of the stadium was very relaxed and the concourse was very simplistic. They didn’t need to do too much to keep fans engaged as it really seems like people of Tampa Bay/St Petersburg are pretty low key to begin with. Though, of course, it was very cool to see the sting rays in center field! For those of you not informed on the history of this franchise, they used to be the Devil Rays before jut being shorted to the Rays a few years back.
Just a couple of other things that We thought were pretty cool were the small dine-in brewery on the lower half of the concourse where people could have their pre-game (or during game) meal and beverages and right in front of that there was a very interesting statue coming out of the wall. The statue was a Rays player, from the waist up, diving for a ball. Definitely caught me off guard as it was looking me straight in the face as I walked toward the escalator.
Basically Dead But That’s Ok: Tampa Bay must be a tough market to break into because the are a young, mostly unsuccessful franchise with a great deal of outside competition that would dissuade fans from coming to the games. Seriously, there’s the beach, the bars, movie theaters, two other sports franchises, and let’s not forget that a great deal of people in Tampa are not originally from Tampa. Like many other ballparks, they had the top half of their 300 level covered (although it seems pointless as who would want to sit in those seats if they didn’t buy them anyways…). But in all actuality, their fans seemed very content with the atmosphere and most of them were in their seats for the entirety of the game; not gallivanting around the concourse (common for places like Arizona and Miami).
Oh, and another thing! The fans were actually pretty loud! Not many people there but they made a great deal of noise when the Rays did something good. Again, pretty unusual for a place with an implant population.
Parking was only $15 in a little lot across from the home plate entrance so that was pretty cheap and convenient. Prices of food and beverage were reasonable and most of the staff was very nice to us. The stadium was pretty small and easy to navigate. Center field had very little seats and you had to actually walk on the pathway below the jumbotron behind the Budweiser Porch in order to walk from one foul pole to the other. I found this super intimate and quite calming interestingly enough. It was nice to be able to see the field while walking in the outfield with very little obstruction. Felt more like a Spring Training or college stadium, really.
I probably should lower my expectations for all of the ballparks because I really did thoroughly enjoy this ballpark. Thought I am hoping it wasn’t because I wasn’t expecting much coming into it. Now we make our way to Atlanta to see the brand new Suntrust Park! But before that we get to witness the solar eclipse – we’ll see where we end up for that.