Bay Devil Rays (MLB, 1998-present)
Tampa Bay Storm (AFL, 1991-1996)
Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL, 1993-1996)
Suncoast Dome (1990-93)
Tropicana Field (1996-)
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.
to Tropicana Field!
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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.
Opening Day 2002
between the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the
Detroit Tigers in drab Tropicana.
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."
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