Tropicana Field

St. Petersburg, FL
Year Opened: 1990
Capacity: 25,000-42,735
Games Attended: 2
First Game: 20160702
Most Recent Game: 20160703
Next Game: TBD
Setting 10.5/20 1 Thumb Down
Locale 1.5/5 1 Thumb Down
Accessibility 1.5/5 1 Thumb Down
Neighborhood Local Scene 7.5/10 Thumb Sideways
Architecture & Aesthetics 13/65 2 Thumbs Down
Exterior Design/Aesthetics 3.5/20 2 Thumbs Down
Interior Aesthetics/Visuals 8/40 2 Thumbs Down
Concourse Aesthetics 1.5/5 1 Thumb Down
Functionality & Essentials 25.5/50 1 Thumb Down
Sightlines: Field Proximity 11.5/15 Thumb Sideways
Sightlines: Seating Geometry 2/5 1 Thumb Down
Seat Comfort 4/9 1 Thumb Down
Concourse Functionality 6.5/15 1 Thumb Down
Scoreboards/Tech 1.5/6 1 Thumb Down
Amenities & Features 37/50 1 Thumb Up
Concessions: Food Variety 4/5 1 Thumb Up
Concessions: Food Quality 3.5/5 Thumb Sideways
Concessions: Craft Beer/Other Drinks 4.5/5 1 Thumb Up
Social Gathering Areas/Restaurants 7.5/10 1 Thumb Up
Premium Seating/Clubs 4.5/9 1 Thumb Down
Historical Exhibits, Memorabilia, Art, & Other Displays 8/10 1 Thumb Up
Kids Areas/Other Entertainment 5/6 1 Thumb Up
Atmosphere, Vibe, & Policies 7.5/15 1 Thumb Down
Fan Support/Attendance 1/5 2 Thumbs Down
Ballpark Traditions/Gameday Presentation 2/5 Thumb Sideways
Ballpark Policies/Staff 4.5/5 1 Thumb Up
Adjusted Raw Score 93.5/200=46.75=47
Bonus 0
Curve for All 7 7
Final Score 54
Ranking #29/30

I am not going to do full, in-depth reviews for the three non-ballpark ballparks, if you will, Tropicana Field, Rogers Centre, and the Oakland Coliseum.  It’s a waste of time to compare these three to the post-1991 ballparks, so the tone is different here.  The following pages are in the format of a photo essay, where I give my brief thoughts.  I also included a small blurb below. It’s not done in the same vein as the long, researched, comprehensive reviews.  Enjoy this in the spirit in which it’s offered.  

Number of games seen: 2
First game: July 2, 2016
Most recent game: July 3, 2016



PHOTO GALLERY at bottom of page

 

By: Cole Shoemaker

*Classic parks Wrigley FieldFenway Park, and Dodger Stadium are not ranked or rated for reasons previously outlined in those reviews 

 

Despite obvious shortcomings in setting, aesthetics, and functionality which put it near the very bottom of baseball, I had fun at Tropicana Field.  And if you’re a ballpark trekker who likes to arrive two hours before the game and take plenty of pictures, you will too.

 

The ushers, supervisors, and even management will take notice, and ensure you have a memorable time. I don’t include customer service in these comprehensive analyses, because it’s so anecdotal. I don’t get the sense this is just anecdotal. They don’t get a lot of fans arriving two hours before the game to document their ballpark for a website, so they are genuinely interested and excited to see someone taking pictures.

 

I’ll admit this is partially due to my tickets in the Home Plate Club on the first day, but this does absolutely nothing to diminish the noteworthiness of the experience. I often sit in these sections, and I haven’t experienced anything like this.

 

I don’t mention this website unless asked, and I was asked early on here. Only a handful of fans arrived at the club entrance this early, so I stuck out. No less than half a dozen ballpark employees described their favorite parts of the ballpark and how I should go about exploring it. They were all honestly interested in my website and what they could do to make my experience a memorable one. Art, the usher you might see on TV behind home plate, was especially proactive and personable. While I got the sense some other club season ticket holders were getting pissy (to be frank), he insisted we a take a seat in the very front row. He made it a point that I meet the manager of premium services, Craig Champagne, and another director of ballpark operations.

 

This was the friendliest and most proactive staff I’ve ever encountered in the big leagues. And to the extent that this was just a function of the seats I had, can you imagine anything similar happening in other such seats across the majors, like the Legends Suite at Yankee Stadium? The Rays are clearly interested in projecting an image of a ballpark that cares about the fans, no matter how it looks.

 

Tropicana Field
Tropicana Field has the worst interior aesthetics in baseball, for obvious reasons. It’s near the bottom in overall aesthetics, functionality, and setting too, but the respectable amenities are worth noting. Tropicana Field is one of the three worst ballparks in baseball, as expected, but it has redeeming qualities. It’s clearly better than the Oakland Coliseum, which I’m not sure is as expected for most people.  It should be, as Tropicana Field is now a baseball-only facility unlike the former.  

The positive energy isn’t limited to the staff in the Home Plate Club. In fact, the amenities start in places accessible to all fans. Tropicana Field is often mentioned in the same breath as Rogers Centre and the Oakland Coliseum, as it should be, but the amenities are far superior at Tropicana, more resembling the retro parks of the last 25 years.

 

Enter the rotunda on the ground level in the right field corner and first take a scroll around the park. Enjoy a cocktail and catch a batting practice home ball at the new Budweiser Patio; grab a bite to eat at the Everglades Brewhouse; enjoy another cocktail and post-meal cigar at the Cigar Bar. Then, take a short stroll over to the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters’ Hall of Fame. You can also head to the Rays Touch Tank if you’re so inclined. Sure, Tropicana probably doesn’t have the amenities of the better post-1991 parks, but it’s clearly in the same conversation.

 

You’re not going to see any sort of comprehensive architectural analysis in this photo essay, because that isn’t what Tropicana Field is about. It’s obviously one of the least aesthetically endowed parks in the majors, to the point where it scores below even Rogers Centre, understandable after factoring in the setting.

 

But Tropicana Field is tons of fun! It’s hard to get excited about a stadium like the Oakland Coliseum, but I look forward to returning to Tropicana Field.

Setting

 

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Issues with Tropicana Field’s setting have been well-documented, so I won’t go into it here.
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Its location and local scene are just as bad as any park, considering access, proximity to other landmarks, quality of the area, and density of restaurants and bars in the vicinity.

Architecture & Aesthetics

Tropicana Field exterior
The most identifying feature of Tropicana Field is its slanted roof. The angle reduces interior volume in order to cut cooling costs, and also protects the stadium from hurricanes.
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The dome can be lit orange at night; I haven’t seen this done lately though.
Tropicana Field outside exterior
Yeah, this makes Chase Field (Arizona) look like Camden Yards.
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The mosaic of fish leading to the rotunda entrance is by far the best feature of the exterior design. The long ceramic mosaic tile is the largest outdoor tile mosaic in Florida.
Tropicana Field rotunda
The inside of the rotunda is the best aesthetic feature on the concourses. The rotunda was built to emulate the one at Ebbets Field.
Tropicana Field behind home plate
Form follows function.
Tropicana Field cross section
With no separate suite level and closed concourses, the upper decks are very low compared to other post-1991 ballparks, similar to Camden Yards and Angel Stadium. The decks are still too pushed back, but overall we have great field proximity.
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The undulating upper deck is distinctive.
Tropicana Field orange
The orange next to the Tropicana sign is notable.  I don’t have much here, guys.  You’re not going to get one of those thousand word interior design analyses.
Tropicana Field
The Rays renovated the look in the outfield for the 2014 season.
Tropicana Field upper deck
A shot in the upper deck.
Tropicana Field upper deck tarp
1/3rd of the upper deck is tarped off.
Tropicana Field catwalks slanted roof
Great look at the slanted roof and the catwalks.
Tropicana Field panorama
Final shot of Tropicana Field from upper deck behind home plate.  I cover much more detail in the functionality and amenities section.  Remember, if you want to see more photos of the interior, just go to the photo gallery on the first page.  

Functionality & Essentials

Tropicana Field sightlines seat angles
To my surprise, seats down the lines in the lower bowl are angled at Tropicana Field. However, many of them were not angled at a sufficient degree. The sightlines are still not ideal down the lines due to the limitations of the physical plant.
Tropicana Field upper decks
With no separate suite level and closed concourses, the upper decks are very low compared to other post-1991 ballparks, similar to Camden Yards and Angel Stadium. The decks are still too pushed back, but overall we have great field proximity.
Tropicana Field bad sightlines overhang issues
There are poor sightlines at the back of the lower bowl due to overhang issues.
Tropicana Field upper deck bad sightlines
Seats in the upper deck down the lines have very poor sightlines and are not angled at all.  These are some of the worst seats in baseball.
Tropicana Field lacking cupholders
Far too many seats are lacking cupholders. Only seats in the 100 level around the infield have them.
Tropicana Field padded seats
Fieldside Box seats at Tropicana Field are padded.
Tropicana Field main concourse
The main concourse is far too narrow behind home plate, significantly below the industry standard.
Tropicana Field food court
Fans get more space in the food courts on the first and third base sides.
Tropicana Field outfield concourse
Tropicana Field’s outfield concourse varies in width, but is sufficient in some places. The outfield concourse is a floor below the main concourse, so walking around the ballpark requires stairs, escalators, or elevators.  This is similar to PNC Park and Petco Park.  A 360-degree concourse with no horizontal or vertical discontinuities is preferred.  
Tropicana Field upper deck concourse
The upper deck concourse is particularly bleak. Yikes.
Tropicana Field upper deck concourse
The upper deck concourse features an enclave behind home plate that could be useful, but it looks pretty dormant.
tbt* Party Deck Tropicana Field
The tbt* party deck concourse was even more barren. The ushers were quite happy to see someone!
1-DSC06104
Added in 2007, the videoboard features HD capabilities, but is now one of the smaller ones in baseball.

Amenities & Features

Everglades BBQ Tropicana Field
The food selection at Tropicana Field is relatively respectable. BBQ, Mexican, Seafood, and other unique items are available.  The selection of BBQ is good too.
Pipo's Tropicana Field
The empanadas, fried plantains, and chicken paella at Pipo’s are Tropicana Field’s signature food. The original Cuban cafe is a bay area tradition.
Tropicana Field Budweiser Patio
Replacing the centerfield batters’ eye restaurant, the Budweiser Patio is a fun place to hang out.
Tropicana Field Budweiser Patio
Another shot of the Budweiser Patio. Evan Longoria’s restaurant Ducky’s offers specialties such as California salad, devil crab, and turkey wraps in this area.
Tropicana Field Everglades Brewhouse
The Everglades Brewhouse is Tropicana Field’s only full-service sit down restaurant. It features BBQ and 38 beer taps serving mostly local craft beers from the Tampa Bay area.
Tropicana Field Everglades Brewhouse sit down bar
Bar at the Everglades Brewhouse.
Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar Tropicana Field
The Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar at Tropicana Field! Comerica Park has the only other cigar bar in major league baseball, but unlike that one, this cigar bar is open to all fans.
Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar Tropicana Field
Cigars here aren’t as pricy as one might think. Small cigars can be bought for $5 if you want a 10 minute smoke. High quality cigars are available as well, but the cost isn’t prohibitive.  Cigars only!
Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar Tropicana Field
The cigar bar is Tropicana Field’s best kept secret. Even if you don’t smoke cigars, this is a nice place to relax, as it is often empty and features very comfortable couches and lounge chairs.  I hope the Rays keep this for years to come.  
Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar Tropicana Field
The cigar bar also features a full-service liquor bar. If the lines are long elsewhere, head here! I still can’t get over how empty this space often is. Located above the Everglades Brewhouse, it is hard to find and not advertised on the main concourse.
Tropicana Field Press Level
While I praise the staff, I should note the quality and options of the premium seating is some of the weakest in baseball. This is the press level, which serves as Tropicana Field’s de-facto club level. Even if you only count the home plate club as premium seating, it is comparatively poor as well, which I get to below.
Tropicana Field Press Level
The sit down areas on the press level remind me of areas off the concourses at small commuter airports.
Tropicana Field Press Level
Even though they call it a press level, it functions like a club level in the sense that only press level (and other premium) ticket holders are allowed here. In practice, it seems more like a suite hallway.  There is no upgrade in food and there is no in seat service.  
Tropicana Field luxury suite
Lower level luxury suite on the main concourse behind home plate.
Tropicana Field DEX Imaging Home Plate Club
I’ll now use this space to detail my Home Plate Club experience through photos, which I don’t get to do in more formal reviews.
Tropicana Field DEX Imaging Home Plate Club
Formerly used as umpire locker rooms, these areas were added in 2002. First, you enter this small lobby…
Tropicana Field DEX Imaging Home Plate Club
…then cross through the service level…
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…and go down this tunnel…
Tropicana Field DEX Imaging Home Plate Club
…and enter the Home Plate Club, which looks exactly like an old umpire’s locker room! Ticket holders get access to a larger space upstairs detailed below, but this is the primary area. The small buffet is behind me in this picture, so this is the extent of the dining space. It mostly houses desserts and small bites like hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, salad, and maybe one unique item. Everything is all-inclusive.  The menu changes for each game.
Tropicana Field DEX Imaging Home Plate Club dessert
Home Plate Club dessert station.
Tropicana Field DEX Imaging Home Plate Club bar
The Home Plate Club bar is located down the hallway closer to the seats. This is the extent of the bar area, and it also features peanuts, popcorn, and hot dogs. All beer, wine, and liquor is included.
Tropicana Field DEX Imaging Home Plate Club
Here is the hallway leading to the seating from the bar. The dining area is to the right down the hallway.  The bathroom is particularly subpar, so bad that we were laughing out loud about it.  A far cry from TVs in sink mirrors above granite countertops.
Tropicana Field DEX Imaging Home Plate Club
Overall, the Home Plate Club is the weakest ultra premium club in baseball, but it’s admirable that the Rays offer it. Plus, you get access to the Rays Club upstairs, which features a more extensive buffet and more free drinks.  These seats are also as comfortable as any in baseball. 
Tropicana Field Rays Club
These are the Rays Club seats, located on the mezzanine above the 100 level but below the press level on the first base side. These seats are a pretty good deal at $110-$150, as alcoholic drinks which would normally cost $12 a pop are included here too.
Tropicana Field Rays Club
Tropicana Field Rays Club buffet menu. This changes for each game.
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Added in 2007, the Rays Club is certainly an upgrade over the Home Plate Club space below, but is still not as luxurious as most other clubs around the majors.
Tropicana Field Rays Club
Rays Club bar and dining area.
Tropicana Field Rays Club
Rays Club dining area at the far end down the right field line.
Tropicana Field Rays Club
Rays Club extensive dessert station.
Tropicana Field Rays Club
Buffet in the Rays Club. Remember, you can see all photos in photo gallery.
Tropicana Field Ted Williams Museum and Hitters' Hall of Fame.
Now, for a change of pace: The Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame! The museum is open during game days until the 7th inning. The museum is open to all ticket holders.
The Ted Williams Museum and Hitters' Hall of Fame
Hitters Hall of Fame
Tropicana Field Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame
The museum has exhibits on Ted Williams’ careers with the Boston Red Sox and with the United States Marine Corps. It also has monuments to the members of the Hitters Hall of Fame with memorabilia.
Tropicana Field Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame
Various exhibits at the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame
Tropicana Field Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame Wade Boggs statue
Statue of Wade Boggs.  There appears to be five statues within the museum and hall of fame.
Tropicana Field Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame statue
Ted Williams statue.
Tropicana Field Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame statue fishing
Statue of Ted Williams fishing.  The world’s greatest fly fisherman also played baseball.
Tropicana Field Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame
Casey at the Bat statue.

Tropicana Field Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame statue

Tropicana Field Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame
The museum and hall of fame also features a small theatre.
Rays Touch Tank Tropicana Field
Rays Touch Tank at Tropicana Field! Young fans can come here and touch the cownose rays for free. However, they will be tempted to buy Rays food to feed them!
Rays Touch Tank Tropicana Field
Up close in the Rays Touch Tank.
Rays Touch Tank Tropicana Field
View from the Rays Touch Tank.
Kids area Tropicana Field
Other kids areas at Tropicana Field aren’t as intrusive or expansive as most other parks.

Atmosphere, Vibe, & Policies

Bonus:

For the great customer service team that strives to make Tropicana Field as fun as possible +1
For the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, one of the best museums and halls of fame outside of Cooperstown +2
For the cigar bar, the best kept secret in the ballpark, perhaps any ballpark, given its high level of comfort and low level of foot traffic  +1
For the Rays Touch Tank, which certainly brings something new to the nation’s ballparks in terms of kid entertainment +1

Defining Features

Biggest Hit

Biggest Miss

Other Hits

Other Misses

Best of

Pro Tips

Bet You Didn't Know

Future Outlook