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The Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the best organizations from top to bottom in Major League Baseball in recent years.
The Rays have finished first in the American League East the last two seasons and have made the playoffs the last three losing in Game 7 of the World Series in 2020.
All four of the Rays’ Minor League affiliates made the playoffs in their respective leagues in 2021. The Triple-A Durham Bulls and the High-A Bowling Green Hot Rods finished the regular season with the best record in their leagues.
While their performance on the field has been impressive as of late, the stadium in which they play has more to be desired.
Many baseball fans consider Tropicana Field to be one of the worst stadiums in baseball because of its location and interior design.
Let’s dive deep into the criticisms that many fans have about Tropicana Field.
The development of Tropicana Field is a controversial topic in the St. Petersburg area.
Nearly 800 people (mostly African American) were displaced from their homes when the city of St. Petersburg decided to build the Rays’ dome in the American Gas Plant district.
Many people who were affected by this are still alive and have shared their displeasure with the city for turning their neighborhood into a baseball stadium.
Also, as the stadium was under construction in 1987, harmful chemicals were found on the construction site, requiring the city to spend millions of dollars to remove the chemicals from the soil.
Another common criticism among fans about Tropicana Field is that it is located in St. Petersburg. Many believe that the stadium should be located in Tampa since the team claims the city in its name and it is a more populous city than St. Petersburg.
Many fans also have issues with the way the stadium is designed.
Some of these complaints about Tropicana Field’s interior design include the catwalks, the bullpens, and the aesthetics.
There are four catwalks that hang from the ceiling of the dome and support its overall structure. The dome is tilted toward the outfield making the catwalks lower in the back of the stadium.
The catwalks are so low in the outfield area that they sometimes get in the way of high fly balls. This prompted Major League Baseball to develop new rules regarding the catwalks in 2010.
The catwalks were labeled as the A, B, C, and D rings with A being closest to the top of the dome and D being the furthest. A batted ball that hits the A and B rings is considered a dead ball. A batted ball that hits the C and D rings is considered a home run.
While these rings do not always affect the game, it happens enough to frustrate many fans who believe that a ceiling should not affect the outcome of an at-bat.
Another unique aspect of Tropicana Field is the location of the bullpens. They are placed in foul territory in the outfield and are rather close to the field of play.
Several decades ago, most professional fields were designed this way. Nowadays, most fields have their bullpens behind the outfield fence to keep them away from the field of play altogether. At Tropicana Field, players chasing fly balls in foul territory must be aware of this obstacle.
And yet another complaint about Tropicana Field’s interior design — though these complaints have decreased since the stadium has been updated — is the overall aesthetics of the interior. Many fans believe that it is too bland.
This may be because, unlike other domes, it was built specifically for baseball, so the designers were more worried about creating better sightlines for players.
When the Twins played in the Metrodome and the Astros in the Astrodome, many players complained about the white ball blending in with the white ceiling. This is rarely a complaint from players at Tropicana Field.
While ownership has invested several million dollars into improving the fan experience at the Rays home ballpark, it will likely take several million more to solve all of its issues.
What is the best stadium in Major League Baseball?
An article from USA Today ranks Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants as the best stadium in the MLB. It is followed by Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs), Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles), PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates), and Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox).
What is the newest stadium in the MLB?
Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, which plays home to the Texas Rangers, is the newest stadium in the MLB. It was built in 2020.
What is the oldest stadium in the MLB?
Wrigley Field in Chicago was built in 1914 making it the oldest park in the MLB.