One Tropicana Drive
Petersburg, FL 33705
Bay Devil Rays (AL)
Opened: March 3, 1990
First Devil Rays game: March 31, 1998
with dirt infield (2000-present); Astroturf with dirt infield (1998-1999)
Architects: HOK Sport (Kansas
City); Lescher & Mahoney Sports (Tampa); Criswell, Blizzard &
Blouin Architects (St. Petersburg)
Construction: Huber, Hunt & Nichols (Indianapolis)
Owner: City of St. Petersburg
Cost: $138 million (1990); renovation $70 million (1998)
First, note that this ballpark is not located in Tampa Bay, Florida -
rather, it is in St. Petersburg, where the taxpayers who footed the bill
for the stadium are justifiably unhappy that they didn't get their town's
name on the facility. Tropicana
Field was originally named
the Florida Suncoast Dome in 1990, and then renamed the Thunderdome in
1993. Finally, it was named Tropicana Field in 1996,
in accordance with a naming rights agreement between the Devil Rays and
Tropicana Dole Beverages North America.
Now that that's out of the way, here's the history: for years, the Tampa
Bay-St. Pete area was a favorite for spring training. But getting a Major
League Baseball team wasn't easy - the city of St. Petersburg went so far
as to build a domed stadium, against the advice of MLB, to lure a major
league team, and almost lured the White Sox, but when the people of
Chicago voted to build them a new ballpark in 1989, the Sox stayed
put. In 1992, a group of Tampa Bay investors announced at a press
conference that the Giants were moving to Tampa Bay, but loopholes in the
agreement allowed a local consortium to keep the team from leaving San
Francisco. Several other teams expressed interest in relocating to
St. Petersburg, but to no avail; finally, on March 9,1995, MLB granted
Tampa Bay a franchise, and the ballpark in St. Petersburg finally found a
Tropicana Field closed in October of 1996 for a 17-month, $85 million
renovation that included adding 319,000 square feet of space.
Tropicana Field Firsts:
March 31, 1998 vs. Detroit
Pitch - Wilson Alvarez
Batter - Brian
Hit - Tony Clark
Double - Joe Randa
Triple - Kevin
Home run - Luis Gonzalez
Grand slam - Johnny Damon
Stolen base - Quinton McCracken/Miguel Cairo (Double steal)
- Justin Thompson
Complete game - Brad Radke
Save - Roberto
This is not a great stadium. It is an all-purpose facility: the
stadium has hosted hockey, basketball, football, soccer, tennis,
weightlifting, ping pong, karate, gymnastics, figure skating, 5-K runs,
equestrian events, motorcycling, sprint car, monster truck and mud bog
racing. (the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL played here from 1993 to
1996, hence the name "ThunderDome.") Let me explain:
It is the first Major League
park in more than 20 years to feature Astroturf and all-dirt base paths,
which creates a tough infield to play on with uneven hops.
The roof is too low. The stadium has a non-retractable roof (it was
completed in 1990, just as the SkyDome was demonstrating the feasibility
of a retractable dome), and although it reaches a peak height of 225 feet
over second base, it is only 85 feet over center field (it is slanted at a
6.5 degree angle). In the first 10 games played here, both Frank
Thomas and Jim Edmonds hit fly balls that hit the catwalk in center,
alarming officials who thought the catwalks were out of reach of
hitters. (Edmonds' blast was ruled a ground rule double, robbing him
of a certain home run). A number of pop fly balls have hit the roof
over the infield, shattering lights above and raining glass everywhere.
The non-retractable dome is a problem for fans who like sunshine.
Other than these and other aesthetic problems, Tropicana is a fairly tame
stadium. It's size is on the small side, the artificial turf lends
predictability to the play, and the lack of wind or sun makes it easy on
Tropicana Field replaced Astroturf with something called Fieldturf,
which plays more like grass. As a result, the ball doesn't
hop quite so quickly along the infield - that cuts down on the
need for infielders with range, but the infield configuration of
all-dirt basepaths and an artificial turf infield caused a few
grumbles and complaints, as well as more than its fair share of
infield errors. The outfield is large, and when the Devil
Rays get some speedy outfielders they will do a better job of
playing defense at home. However, it is a standard
configuration, and other than a few lost fly balls resulting from
the off-white ceiling and stadium catwalks, outfielders are
generally not pushed to the limit here.
St. Petersburg, FL. Left
field (N), Central Avenue; third base (W), 16th Street N; first base (S),
Dunmore Avenue S; right field (E), 11th Street S.
field: 315 ft.
field: 404 ft.
field: 322 ft.
The Trop is 13 percent larger from left field to dead center, than it is
from right field to dead center.
territory: Small/below average
- Highest double factor in AL in 2001
- Second highest triples factor in AL
- Third highest hit factor in AL in
- Lowest walk factor in AL in 2001
- Grand entrance on the outfield side
(east) of stadium features an Ebbets Field style rotunda (5-stories,
80 feet wide).
- The roof of the dome is lit orange
after a Devil Rays win.
- White and coral stucco and green
tinted, non-mirrored glass cover the outside walls of the stadium.
- 100 high-backed upholstered
"Scout Seats" located in the first few rows behind home
plate feature individual monitors showing views from all stadium
cameras, statistics and special concession menus.
- "Beach at Tropicana Field"
located in left field is a private concourse with palm trees and an
- A restaurant with seating for 350
people is located in center field "batter's eye dead zone".
A special film hides patrons from a batter's view while allowing them
to view the game.
- The stadium has parking for nearly
7,000 cars, 465 wheelchair accessible seats, 7 escalators and 23