Rays’ improvements will reduce Trop capacity to 31K

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.

25 thoughts on “Rays’ improvements will reduce Trop capacity to 31K

  1. This is just reducing the number of empty seats, no?

  2. @pjk: It’s about allowing fans to more easily walk around the stadium in a continuous path. The rationale is that fans are more likely to spend more money on whatever Tropicana Field’s concourses have to offer. In other words, it’s the WTF does that even mean “fan experience.”

  3. It’s a nice change. It’s always nice to be able to walk around a park. Tropicana was apparently one of those stadiums that didn’t allow for continuous movement around the stadium. The seat reduction just seems to be a byproduct of the additions. That is unless they untarp the seats they’ve had tarped for several years now to offset the outfield loss.

    That said it’s not like Tampa’s attendance is terrible. They’re averaging 18,000+ right now. The A’s were right there not two seasons ago.

  4. And by not terrible I mean not Expos bad…

  5. Tampa’s attendance (average of 18,645 per game) had them finishing last in that category.

  6. Disclaimer: don’t know the Tampa area one bit (transportation, economics, population centers, etc.). But couldn’t the Rays keep going with this? Completely renovate the joint with retractable roof, grass field, upgraded concourses/amenities AND go Braves Cobb County with adjacent mixed-use developments? Just curious. (No, this could never happen at the Coli)

  7. Doesn’t someone have to finish last in attendance?

  8. Tony, not really. It’s in a poor location in general compared to their fan base. And the stadium itself is known for being a pit. It doesn’t really have a good framework to make it look good through renovation. This is more lipstick on a pig, do the best with what you got sort of work. They know where they’re playing for a long while to come so they may as well make the investment.

  9. Brian you beat me to it. Every year someone is last. It’s not the place it’s the average. And the Rays average, while not good, is not catostrophic or “move the team now” bad like the Spos was in their latter years.

  10. Brian/Dan, the problem is when you’re frequently at the very bottom, especially while putting a good team on the field. The fewer the fans watching at the park, the fewer watching on TV, the less money you get for ad & TV revenues. It’s sign of a larger issue that makes it very hard to compete. It’s one thing to have a crappy team and lose attendance as a result for a year or two, but pick it back up when you improve. It’s a whole other ballgame if it simply never exists in the first place.

  11. Well given the challenges the Rays have faced, a decade of being downright awful, they play distant from much of the region’s population (they plan in the Tampa Bay equivalent of Marin County or Richmond), they play in what is often cited as one of the two worst stadiums in MLB along with our own, and they play in an area that much of the population already had another favorite team. The generation that has grown up with the Rays being in town is only now entering their 20’s and having the ability to really buy tickets, etc…

    Give the Rays a real ballpark somewhere in Tampa (not St. Pete) and two of their problems are solved right there. They’ve been fielding better teams which solves the third, and the fourth takes care of itself in time.

  12. So in other news the Vikings have broke ground on their new stadium.

  13. It’s nice to hear that these changes are to improve the access to all the stadium amenities for Rays fans who sit in the formerly more isolated outfield seating areas. In addition, the cosmetic changes will also hopefully make the ballpark atmosphere a more pleasant and fan friendly experience. These changes are all well and good, but they do not address the bigger problems with Tropicana Field itself, and the uncertainty and questions about Tampa Bay as a MLB market. For one thing, Tropicana Field is located in a more isolated and less accessible area of St. Petersburg, particularly for fans traveling to and from the City of Tampa. Tampa is considered to be the concentrated population center within the greater Tampa Bay regional area. Some consider that the biggest mistake about Tropicana Field was that it should have been built in Tampa instead of St. Petersburg. Other Tropicana Field critics have stated that the weather is, for the most part, too nice in Florida to have a permanently roofed stadium, and that a retractable roofed facility would be more ideal for the ballgame fan experience. Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg is fully aware, at least for the time being, his team is stuck by an ironclad lease at Tropicana Field. Sternberg is helping to make stadium improvements for the fans to make the most out of a bad stadium situation, until they can hopefully find a way for the Rays to get out of their current stadium predicament.

  14. “Other Tropicana Field critics have stated that the weather is, for the most part, too nice in Florida to have a permanently roofed stadium, and that a retractable roofed facility would be more ideal for the ballgame fan experience.”
    I visit Tampa frequently and don’t buy this. The weather in Florida during baseball season is hot, humid and rainy. As I understand, the Marlins keep their roof closed most of the time.
    The main benefit of having a retractable roof over a dome in Florida seems to be the possibility of having natural grass. Even here, the Marlins are apparently having trouble keeping their roof open enough to keep the grass alive; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlins_Park.

  15. That roof top deck at Coors will be sweet! Very cool concept! How’s it being paid for BTW? Some day all, some day….

  16. Wonder what that bar is going to do to the capacity at Coors. Any reduction will be a good thing particularly if it brings Coors capacity back down to what it was originally intended (42,500 or so)

  17. What the “Trop” changes are about is the reality that the Rays will be there for over another Decade or so, and they might as well make the best of it. The A’s situation is the exact opposite. They will not be at the Coliseum for much longer ( despite what Quan may say or think)..

  18. The grey concrete greyness at Tropicana Field is the first thing I notice in pictures/tv. I really think wood paneling would look awesome there. It’d be out of place, but a mismatched eclectic vibe is much better than the grey, powder blue, florescent look the ‘Trop currently has.

  19. @ML I really appreciate you man, some people in the Pro/Only Oakland camp make comments from time to time, about you not adequately, or fairly covering Oakland efforts, as it relates to saving the A’s, and of course that’s ludacris, but the fact that you have made a C.C. page chronicling (all), the efforts of Coliseum City to date, wow nowhere, could a person find this much detailed information concerning C.C., and the fact of the matter is I will be thrilled if C.C. can simply retain the Raiders.

  20. Re Coors, can’t really tell how many sections this affects, but there are 16 rows of 24 seats per section. If it’s the 8.5 sections that are flush with the right field wall, that would be 3,264 seats, which would make it go from 50,480 to 47,216. Not that much of a difference.

  21. Lakeshore, the pro Oakland guys get mad because ML does an honest job, not propaganda pushing. If you go back see what those folks said about Victory Court, it’s mind numbing. They are divored from reality and take personal offense and honesty.

  22. The Oakland-only guys believe the A’s belong in Oakland, no exceptions, and it’s MLB’s and the owners’ job (not the city’s) to find a way to keep them there, regardless of financial and siting obstacles. If all exploration keeps leading to dead ends, then it shows MLB and the owners haven’t tried hard enough, apparently.

  23. I’m highly disappointed in the Rays fan base for not starting a Twitter account for Rays minutae @Raysist

  24. @bartleby the issue with Marlins Park grass is not because the roof is not open enough. The roof is always open during the day and closed prior to games. The problem is the shadows cast by the roof tracks and supports in right and left field (home plate faces SE) during the mornings and late afternoon. They have since installed shade tolerant turf and sun lamps to improve the situation.

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