Tropicana Field Ballpark Review
While the park itself is located in St. Petersburg, not Tampa, it is located right off of a major highway (175?) and has plenty of street signs and directions to the Trop. Very Convenient.
For a major league stadium, I felt the value was top notch. The ticket prices themselves were standard fare, but a few of the â€œadded value playsâ€ set the Trop apart. Firstly, stadium parking is free. Yep, you read that right, free! And I’m not talking two miles a way, shuttle bus free either. Right outside the gates. The second big added value play is the newly updated, free admission, Ted Williams Hall of Fame that’s located inside the park. It’s kinda cheesy to adopt Williams as the local son just because he retired there, but I guess the Rays have to get a â€œrubâ€ somehow. The HOF itself is solid, and outside of Cooperstown it’s probably the best display of classic baseball memorabilia, plaques, etc that I’ve seen. Here are a couple of photos of their holdings. I’ll probably do a right up on the HOF itself on a later date. Defiantly worth checking out. The concessions were also standard MLB fare, with a few extra offerings scattered about the ballpark.
Tickets/Concessions: Average Value
Parking & Williams HOF: Exceptional Value
I didn’t have high hopes when entering the Trop and I was somewhat impressed. Take that comment with a grain of salt though, as most sources had this park as one of the five worst in the majors. This past off-season, they did a Rogers Center (Skydome) esq remolding, including new turf & a variety of scoreboards around the park. They added in a super clear main scoreboard monitor.
It included the standard stats, along with pitch counts, OPS, SLG, BB and other stats. Seeing as how I â€œrollâ€, I loved the inclusion of these stats. But I think it may be a mistake for this park and its casual fan base. Kid speaking here: â€œDaddy, Carl Crawford has an .832 OPS & a 75% SB percentage, what does that mean?â€ Average Yokel: â€œUmâ€¦â€ Lesson: Hey Rays, don’t make the casual fan feel stupid. Just cause your front office uses a couple different statistical indicators, it doesn’t mean that your average, twice a year fan is going to know what’s up. Don’t make him feel stupid, eh?.
The ballpark dimensions are standard fare, except for a new gimmick that was put in place this off-season. Someone in promotions or management got the bright idea to lower the wall in the leftfield corner to give Crawford the opportunity to make some over the wall catches. I assume someone’s going to get messed up doing this at some point. Other than that, foul territory is a little bigger than average due to the bullpens being located on the grass, just outside the foul lines, somewhat like old Tiger Stadium.
The seating lines themselves aren’t all that bad. I didn’t venture up to the top deck, but the first level, press box, and outfield seats all had good lines. The Trop does suffer in terms of crowd noise, as some domes do (Toronto again). They try to solve this by piping in some cheers during the â€œpump upâ€ graphics & videos but it doesn’t work all that well.
All in all, it’s a dome. It doesn’t feel 100% like a ballpark to meâ€”personal preferenceâ€”but for what it is, it compares with the Ballpark in Toronto, with seats being a little closer to the field.
As expected, the opening day atmosphere was pretty rah-rah, with 30,000+ in attendance. But the next day, they were back down to about 15,000, then a little over 10,000 for the third game. The announced attendance was higher but I assume they â€œpaperedâ€ the building to make it sound more appealing.
The fan base is casual and included a large number of families. One plus, which free parking may help aid, is the tailgating in the lots before the game. I’ve never really understood doing a hardcore tailgate for something as deliberate as baseball, but what the hell, take the excuse and have a good time. Live bands outside the park playing for the tailgaters didn’t hurt either.
So the atmosphere inside the park was a little underwhelming due to the Dome factor, casual fans, and low noise levels. On the other hand, the atmosphere outside the park was a pleasant surprise. Overall, I’d have to give the whole atmosphere a slightly below average score.
I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from my three game trip to the Trop. Yet it surpassed my meager expectations and turned out to be a pretty good experience. I think when adding up all of the factors, you should defiantly check this ballpark out at least once due to the Williams Hall of Fame. The free parking, tailgating and average costs don’t hurt either. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised.
Recommendation: Hit it Up