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Tropicana Field

By Wikipedia

Tropicana Field is a domed stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida which has been the home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays since 1998.

At a glance...
Facility statistics
Location 1 Tropicana Drive
St. Petersburg, Florida 33705
Broke ground 1986
Opened March 3, 1990
First D-Rays Game March 31, 1998
Owner City of St. Petersburg
Surface AstroTurf (-2000)
FieldTurf with dirt infield (2000-)
Construction cost $130M
$70M renovation
Architects HOK Sport;
Lescher & Mahoney Sports;
Criswell, Blizzard & Blouin
Tampa Bay Devil Rays (MLB, 1998-present)
Tampa Bay Storm (AFL, 1991-1996)
Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL, 1993-1996)
Florida Suncoast Dome (1990-93)
Thunderdome (1993-96)
Tropicana Field (1996-)
Seating capacity
43,500 (2004)
Left Field - 315 ft
Left-Center - 370 ft
Center Field - 404 ft
Right-Center - 370 ft
Right Field - 322 ft
Backstop - 50 ft

The ballpark originally began construction in 1986 in the hope that it would lure in a Major League Baseball team. The stadium, built originally as the Florida Suncoast Dome, was first used in an attempt to move the Chicago White Sox if a new ballpark was not built to replace the aging Comiskey Park. The governments of Chicago and Illinois eventually agreed to build a "new" Comiskey Park in 1989, and the White Sox owners ceased discussing the idea of moving the team to Tampa Bay.

The stadium was finished in 1990, but still had no tenants. There were rumors of the Seattle Mariners moving in the early part of the 1990s, and the San Francisco Giants were reportedly very close to moving to the area, with Tampa Bay investors even announcing they were in a press conference in 1992. However, the sale was blocked by the then-owner of the Florida Marlins, H. Wayne Huizenga, and the move never happened. A local boycott of Blockbuster Video stores (which Huizenga made his fortune from) occurred for several years thereafter.

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The Suncoast Dome did manage to gain a tenant in 1993 when the Tampa Bay Lightning made the stadium its home for 3 seasons. In the process, the Suncoast Dome was renamed the Thunderdome. Because of the large capacity of what was basically a park built for baseball, several NHL attendance records were set during their time there. The Arena Football Tampa Bay Storm also played there during the "Thunderdome" era, and set attendance records for that league as well.

Finally, in 1995, the dome got a baseball team when Major League Baseball expanded to the Tampa Bay area. Changes were made to the stadium and the name, which was changed due to the sale of naming rights, became Tropicana Field in 1996. A $70 million renovation then took place - to upgrade a stadium that had cost $115 million to complete only eight years earlier. The first regular season baseball game took place at the park on March 31, 1998, when the Devil Rays faced the Detroit Tigers, losing 11-6.

The park was initially built with an AstroTurf surface, but it was replaced in 2000 by softer FieldTurf, becoming the first major professional facility to use it.

Tropicana Field!

Opening Day 2002 between the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Detroit Tigers in drab Tropicana.

Photo by Douglas K. Lingefelt/USAF

03/31/1998 Tigers 11, Devil Rays 6
Umpires Rich Garcia, Mike Reilly
  Tim McClelland, John Hirschbeck
Managers Larry Rothschild, Devil Rays
  Buddy Bell, Tigers
Starting Pitchers Wilson Alvarez, Devil Rays
  Justin Thompson, Tigers
Ceremonial Pitch HOFs Monte Irvin, Al Lopez,
Stan Musial, Ted Williams
Attendance 45,369
Batter Brian Hunter (ground out)
Hit Tony Clark (single)
Run Tony Clark
RBI Joe Randa
Single Tony Clark
Double Joe Randa
Triple Kevin Stocker (04/01/1998)
Home Run Luis Gonzalez
Grand Slam Johnny Damon (05/14/1998)
IPHR Dave Martinez (07/10/1998)
Stolen Base Quinton McCracken, Miguel
Cairo (04/01/1998)
Sacrifice Hit Denny Hocking (04/13/1998)
Sacrifice Fly Albert Belle (04/03/1998)
Cycle (None)
Win Justin Thompson
Loss Wilson Alvarez
Shutout Wilson Alvarez, Esteban Yan,
Jim Mecir (04/05/1998)
Save Troy Percival (04/26/1998)
Hit by Pitch Roberto Duran hit Fred McGriff
Wild Pitch Doug Brocail (04/01/1998)
Balk Tony Saunders (04/02/1998)
No-Hitter (None)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet

Among the most cited dislikes about the stadium are the four catwalks that hang from the ceiling. The Dome was built on an incline in order to reduce the air conditioned volume. Therefore, the dome is tilted toward the outfield, resulting in the catwalks being lower in the outfield. Ring D, as it is called, is in play, and can be hit by fly balls. A few hits have been lost in them. Another criticism of the stadium is the incredibly drab interior environment; although the stadium is located in a subtropical climate, one cannot tell from inside the dome. Even if the inside of the dome is a better environment than the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minnesota, the difference is negligible.

The facility has also been used for rounds of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament; it hosted the Final Four in 1999.

Despite being built as recently as 1990, the stadium is constantly rated among the bottom of MLB fields. Nicknames include "The Trop" and "The Juicer."

Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.

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USGS Photo

Year by Year statistics: for Tropicana Field

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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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