Two ballparks 100% completely opposite in almost every way, including being on opposite sides of the country to boot. My Tampa Bay Rays road trip continued one week later at their hometown park in St. Petersburg Florida. I was in Seattle one week earlier and got a chance to see the Mariners put a walloping on the Rays to the tune of 12 – 5. The following week I was in Tampa for work and this time I got to see them loose to my hometown Oakland Athletics 3 – 0. Hey what luck not only did I get to see two games one week apart but I got to see them at parks not in my hometown state of California. Plus I got to visit what many people call “the worst ballpark in America”.
That being said I got to see America’s pastime, and visit a stadium I’ve never been to before. Not bad for a day’s work, ha ha. Someday I’ll hopefully get a chance to visit every Major League Baseball stadium, I’ve been to 15 so far and am doing my best to knock off as many as I can. This year I plane to also visit Baltimore and both parks in Chicago.
Ok so back to the topic at hand, why is Tropicana Field the worst park in America? Simple. For starters, it’s only one of two stadiums still using AstroTurf. Secondly it’s one mess of a concrete jungle and it’s the eighth oldest stadium. Old is not bad when it comes to ballparks, you have Wrigley, Fenway and Dodger Stadium that are older, but they have so much character and history. Additionally it’s the only indoor stadium without a retractable dome. Regardless of whether a stadium does or doesn’t have a roof in my opinion is irrelevant, but having a dome that doesn’t open is. You lose the feeling of what baseball is, a game that should be played outside, with the smell of the fresh cut grass, popcorn, hotdogs and beer. You just can’t get that indoors. Period.
As I’ve said earlier I’ve not been to every park in America so I’m not an expert on what park could be worse, if there is one. But I can tell you that of all the places I’ve been too it’s definitely at the bottom. There are three places that come to mind that might be close, Oakland Coliseum, Chase Field (Arizona) and Rodgers Center (Toronto). I’ve only been to the first two, and they are not great, but at least Oakland has a fierce and loyal fan base and they consistently put a quality product on the field. The main issues in Tampa besides the ugly interior/exterior is what appears to be a small fan base and antiquated facilities. The stadium holds 31,000 people but on average in 2013 they had barley 18,000 people per night lowest in the Majors. But since that number is based on sold tickets not on actual butts in the seats you know that it has to be less on most nights, on the night I went there were just 11,000 people. Ironically both teams in Florida are at the bottom last and 32 and 30 in attendance respectively.
Ok so that’s enough bashing on the Tampa Bay Rays, they suck enough already. There’s no reason for me to just pile on. That being said, I had a great time at the game , my team won and I did have a good seat. It was just a stark and boring atmosphere to watch a game in. If there was one highlight though, it was the Ray touch tank. In the outfield on the second deck they had a really cool Ray touch tank, and you guessed it you got to see them swimming and touch em. Not a bad way to end a game. Apparently this is a big hit and the lines can be long, but on a Tuesday night in the 7th it was not full so I lucked out.