|2,776 (Business seats)|
|Country||United States of America|
|Clubs||Tampa Bay Rays|
|Other names||Florida Suncoast Dome (1990–1993), Thunderdome (1993–1996)|
|Construction||22/11/1986 - 02/1990|
|Renovations||1998, 2006-2007, 2014|
|Cost||$ 130 million (1998), $ 70 million (1998)|
|Design||Populous, Lescher & Mahoney Sports, Criswell, Blizzard & Blouin Architects|
|Contractor||Hunt Construction Group|
|Address||One Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg, Florida 33705, USA|
Tropicana Field – stadium description
The idea of building a new baseball stadium arose in 1983, when the city wanted to draw a major professional franchise (while NFL and soccer teams were already operating in nearby Tampa).
Construction was launched in 1986, when the city had no clarity as to whether any team would actually come. This proved very problematic over time, because the first home game for key tenants Tampa Bay Rays came as late as 1998, 8 years after opening. Even more controversially, some $70 million had to be invested into remodeling of then-8yo stadium that had cost $130 million in 1990.
Major League Baseball’s latest franchise settled in the league’s last remaining dome and also one of the smallest stadiums throughout MLB. Use of a domed roof was considered adequate though, because humid and hot weather with frequent storms would have influenced the game greatly in open air.
The circular dome is unique as it’s slanted towards the east. This way overall volume of the arena was reduced, thus reducing the heating/cooling cost. However the structure became controversial due to catwalks and cables hanging under the dome. During some games the ball may hit structural elements, which change its trajectory and may influence the score.
As if this wasn’t enough, lowest catwalk (supporting floodlights) obstructs the view from highest rows. This led to capacity reduction for MLB games to 31,042 instead of original 42,000+. All of the seating is used during football games, though first regular fixture at Tropicana Field, the St. Petersburg Bowl, arrived as late as 2008. Along regular seats 70 suites and 2,776 business seats are available.
A feature we couldn’t miss is the 11,000-gallon tank with live rays built inside the ground in 2006. During games fans may feed and touch these creatures, while any ball landing in water results in Tampa Bay Rays donating a significant amount to charities.