The home field of the Tampa Bay Rays has always been Tropicana Field, which was built about eight years before the franchise was awarded to the city. Construction for this facility began in 1986 and required about three and a half years to finish, finally opening on March 3rd, 1990. The cost of this stadium was $130 million and was built specifically to attract the MLB and other major professional sports to the region.
When it first opened, this facility was called the Florida Coast Dome and when the Tampa Bay Lightening moved into these digs it was called the Thunderdome. However, when Tampa’s NFL franchise finally moved into their own arena and the Rays started playing ball, Tropicana purchased the naming rights to hitch their name to MLB marketing opportunities.
This venue features an enclosed dome structure and went through a large renovation even through it was only completed eight years prior. These changes were finished in time for the first regular season game, in which the Tampa Bay Devil Rays lost to the Detroit Tigers by a score of 11-6. While the dome certainly protects against inclement weather, this venue is now the only MLB domed park without a retractable roof, preventing fans and players alike from enjoying the sunny Florida weather.
Tampa Bay Rays Stadium
The Tampa Bay franchise has done well of late, making the post season three times in the past five years, including a division title and a pair of wild card births. However, over the past couple of seasons, the Rays have succumbed to the pressure of the intense competition of the American League East division, which features perennial killers like the Yankees and the Red Sox, with the occasional challenge mounted by the Orioles and the suddenly resurgent Blue Jays. As a result, they’ve suffered through sub-.500 winning record at home during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Tropicana Field is a dead ball stadium according to the 2015 MLB Park Factor stats. All offensive metrics trend towards a pitcher’s advantage, including a rate of hit and walk production that ranks near the bottom of the league. Extra base hits and runs are also at a premium in this venue, with all of them ranking in the bottom third of the league compared to other ballparks.
When considering seats that are tarped or have a blocked or partial view, Tropicana Field has the smallest capacity in the league, even worse than O.co Coliseum’s tarped upper deck.
Date Opened: March 3, 1990
Construction Cost: $130 million
Architect: Crisswell, Blizzard and Blouin Architects; Lescher and Mahoney Sports; HOK Sport
Ballpark Type: Multipurpose
Capacity Attendance: 42,735
Playing Surface: AstroTurf GameDay Grass
Previous Tampa Bay Rays Stadium
Other Major Events
Sports in the St. Petersburg area took off during the 90’s, including the creation of an NHL franchise in Florida, the Tampa Bay Lightening. They played at this facility for three years, creaing new attendance records even as the team languished in the standings.
A couple of high profile college events take place at The Trop every year. The St. Petersburg Bowl is a big matchup that has occurred at this facility since 2008. The East-West Shrine Game is an all-star event that has brought the best college footballers together since 1925. This game has been hosted at Tropicana Field since 2012.