An ongoing adventure of travel and living while using a wheelchair. Tim has been disabled from birth. Darryl is his father and caregiver who travels with him.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018
FIELDS OF DREAMS: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Consistently rated at one of the ugliest stadiums in baseball, the former Thunder Dome was built in 1990...just two years before the construction of Camden Yards in Baltimore would revolutionize Major League Baseball stadiums. Tropicana Field is home to the Tampa Bay Rays. It's pretty far from Tampa, though, keeping the crowds that might usually come pretty far away.
Former called the Devil Rays, the teamed dropped the "Devil" in their name in 2008. The Rays have a history of mediocre teams and being an 'also ran' but had some success when manager Joe Maddon came over from the Angels in 2006, leading to an American League pennant in 2008. Let's take a look at the stats:
Surface: Shaw Sports Turf
Construction cost: $130 million
Capacity: 42,735 (artificially limited to 31.042 by covering top deck seats with tart)
Field dimensions: Left field - 315 ft; Left center - 370 ft; center field - 404 ft; right center - 370 ft; right field - 322 ft.
Home team: Tampa Bay Rays (American League - MLB) 1998 - present
Tampa Bay Storm (AFL) 1990-1996
Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) 1993-1996
Events attended: 1 game
Tropicana Field is the last remaining MLB stadium with a fixed roof. It is one of two stadiums in the league to have an artificial surface, Toronto is the other. A quirk in the ground rules means that if a ball hits one of the inner two rings of catwalk in the ceiling, the ball is in play. If it hits and outer ring, it's a home run.
There is good access all around the entire stadium. Wheechair seating is plentiful all around the seating bowl. Sight lines are excellent throughout the stadium.
Ticketing is easy, just go to Raysbaseball.com to click 'Tickets' at the top of the page, choose a game date, and click on on'accessible seating.' We had no problem getting seats for the wheelchair and two companions. Dynamic pricing means there are no set ticket prices but our seats by first base were around $40.
Public transit is almost non-existent to this park, but there is plenty of parking...some of it free if you have four or more in the car...and is just within walking distance to downtown.
There are a large number of lodging options in the area from retro budget roadside motels to the Four Seasons. We stayed at the Hyatt Place, downtown, which was a very nice, mid-priced, option that included breakfast.
Food choices are quite extensive There is a large food hall, with a variety of options, in the concourse behind first and third base. The night we were there, the hot dogs were very good and only $2. A bit on the small side but the price was right at was the refillable sodas and popcorn at $5 and $7.50 respectively.
The concessions concourse is closed but monitors at the food stands allow you to follow the game. Lines were short and quick.
While this stadium is a bit old and has a run-down reputation, we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit here. What they lack in up-to-date amenities they more than make up for with immersive game action and great service to the fans.