From the Can’t-say-they’re-not-trying department: The Tampa Bay Rays are embarking on a small project at their home, Tropicana Field. In an effort to give fans the same kind of wraparound concourse experience seen at many other new ballparks, the Rays will remove four rows of outfield seats and construct some catwalks to fully extend the lower concourse completely around the Trop.
When conceived in the late 80’s, the emphasis was on maximizing space inside the Dome. To accomplish that, access to the outfield seats was at a lower point than the regular lower concourse, so that there could be room for services underneath the seats. This has made the outfield area feel a little closed off. The Rays are making this change in hopes of attracting fans who will linger and walk around, as is done at other ballparks. The glassed-in restaurant in center field is also getting a makeover, making it part of the concourse. The Ray tank will not be affect by the project.
In doing this, the Rays will lower the Trop’s capacity to a mere 31,042, by far the smallest in the majors. They could remove some of the upper deck tarps that artificially limit capacity, but so far have not shown interest in doing so. The project is funded in part by the Rays and by an existing capital improvements fund. Maybe this will help bring in fans, maybe it won’t. It’s something, I guess.
The Rangers are also spending $4 million on small improvements to Rangers Ballpark.