ST. PETERSBURG - The Tampa Bay Rays announced plans Dec. 3 for a major upgrade to Tropicana Field that will significantly enhance the fan experience for the 2014 season.
The project will create 360-degree pedestrian circulation around the lower seating bowl at Tropicana Field. The improved circulation will provide easier access to and from ballpark gates, concessions and activity areas throughout the facility. Existing cross-aisles in the lower bowl will be extended from the left and right field foul poles to create a walkway lined with drink rails as it winds toward center field.††
"These renovations reflect our constant commitment to providing a first-class gameday experience at Tropicana Field," said Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg. "A visit to the ballpark will be even more enjoyable because of these new features and attractions."
The renovations will also create a more dynamic experience in the area just above the center field wall previously occupied by the Everglades BBQ Smokehouse. No longer a walled- and glassed-in space set apart from the game, it will be transformed into a unique patio with open views of the playing field and new food and beverage areas easily accessible to all ballpark patrons.†
A new deck overlooking the Rays Touch Tank will connect the patio to the new walkway at its right field entrance. A more traditional batter's eye structure, meeting all Major League Baseball specifications, will also be installed.
As a result of the renovation project, visitors to the ballpark will now be able to access the entire lower seating bowl directly from the escalators located at the main rotunda entrance of Tropicana Field.
"This project will significantly enhance the total ballpark experience," said Rays Senior Vice President of Development and Business Affairs Michael Kalt. "It will make it much easier for our patrons to navigate the ballpark, and allow them to enjoy the game from exciting new areas and dynamic new vantage points."
The project will result in the removal of approximately 3,000 seats, mostly to accommodate the new outfield walkways. Capacity for regular season baseball games at Tropicana Field in 2014 is expected to be 31,042.
The Rays partnered with award-winning sports architects Populous, who designed the renovations to the Rays spring training home at the Charlotte Sports Park, on the 360-degree walkways and creation of the new center field patio.
The current project builds on the more than $20 million the Rays have invested in Tropicana Field since 2006, including the creation of the Hancock Bank Club, major improvements to the interior of the ballpark, the installation of new video boards and sound system, as well as the addition of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame located in Center Field Street.
Renderings of the project are also available for fans to view at raysbaseball.com/rays360. Fans will be able to access additional content and images via the Rays social media channels (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) using the hashtag #RAYS360.