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Ballpark Profile: Tropicana Field

Ballpark Profile: Tropicana Field
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Name: Tropicana Field

Location: St Petersburg, Florida

Opened: 3 March 1990

Architect: HOK Sport

Cost: $130 Million

Capacity: 42,735

Surface: Shaw Sports Turf (artificial turf)

If you've been following along with any regularity to these ballpark profiles, you'll be well familiar with what -- in our estimation -- makes a great ballpark.

Let's see how Tropicana Field stacks up against our criteria:

Outdoors - NO
Natural Grass - NO
Baseball-only - NO
Part of the neighborhood - NO
Architecturally interesting and reflective of city - NO
Good ambiance, charm - NO

And, you know what?
I like Tropicana Field.

No, I love Tropicana Field.

It is everything a ballpark shouldn't be. To be honest, I cannot call this a "ballpark" with a straight face. 

In ways I cannot even fully understand myself, let alone justify or explain, Tropicana Field just . . . works.

Maybe it's the fact that it doesn't hit a single criteria of what makes a good ballpark. If it hit one or two, it could just be considered really bad. But the fact that it ostentatiously, blatantly, proudly goes against everything a good ballpark should be gives it its own special charm.

Maybe it's the relentlessly good product on the field. Maybe it's the fans, who love their team, love baseball, and love The Trop. I really can't explain it.

It opened in 1990, just a year before New Comiskey in Chicago and two years prior to the iconic Camden Yards in Baltimore. This isn't some holdover from the multi-purpose cookie-cutters of the 1960s and 70s. Tropicana Field is essentially of the same vintage as Oriole Park and Jacobs Field. They knew better, and still came up with . . . that.

And that is genuinely, wholeheartedly okay.

Would I want Tropicana Field to be my home ballpark? No. No way.
Do I fervently hope the Rays, the amazing, wonderful Rays, get a new gem of a ballpark? Absolutely.

But, for what it is, Tropicana Field is a weird little slice of heaven.

Go. Visit it.

And not just to see one of the best young teams in action. Celebrate Tropicana Field for its own special . . . whatever.

Have your own thoughts or memories of Tropicana Field? Add them in the comments below for a chance to win a FREE PRINT from Ballpark Blueprints!

6 comments

  • Laura: October 28, 2020

    This was the most random ballpark I ever visited. Game day experience was strange from the parking situation to walking into the ballpark. I agree, it is a terrible experience for a baseball game, but so strange I had to see at least one game there to be thankful that it is not my hometown ballpark. I remember it being dark and low energy. Thanks for the review and the brutal honesty of the overall expectations someone could have of The Trop. Hopefully they get a new stadium soon!

  • Phil Kramer: October 26, 2020

    Wrigley is home so my taste runs that way. I’m a baseball tourist and have been to 22 current and 27 overall. The Trop was last on my list of ballparks to visit, would have been a trip just to complete the goal of all 30. As luck would have it, work took me to Tampa/St. Pete conveniently timed to attend Game 4 of last year’s ALDS. Maybe it’s just fond remembering of my last live sporting event, but I enjoyed my visit far more than I expected I would. It certainly has its unique charm and we had a great time. I’m sure a lot of that was due to the playoff atmosphere and the exciting win for the home team, but I’m glad a made it there. Hopefully they get a new park soon, I’m always looking for a reason to go to a ballpark.

  • Dan Humboldt: October 26, 2020

    What a ballpark! Well not actually the ball park per day. Ur I will always have a soft spot for Tropicana Field in my childhood memories. We moved to the Tampa area when I was just starting to hit my baseball fever pitch as. I was about 10 years old and couldn’t believe that I had my very own baseball team in my hometown. I grew up in Orlando and never had my own pro baseball team to cheer for. My dad was from Minnesota so I grew up at Twins fan and my moms from Cleveland so I wanted to play third base for the tribe. But when we moved to Tampa it was all Rays going forward. I went to the Trop so many times with my dad and my family, and playing Little League baseball I dreamed on playing in the Trop (how many kids could say that?!?). . I have a lot of great memories of Tropicana Field and no it’s not the shiniest and the concessions aren’t the greatest and it’s a long drive from a lot of places but it is my ballpark. It always has been and always will be. I will always cheer for the Rays and cherish my time at Tropicana Field. I’ve seen more balls bounce off the cat walks than I could remember. I’ve seen corked bats discovered and bench clearing brawls.. And Only a few fans around me in any at time and any game. But I love the Rays and I love the Trop. Long love the Trop!!! Let’s go Rays!!!

  • Ryan Blackman: October 26, 2020

    You’re not wrong. This place was surprisingly okay. I expected to hate it and really didn’t.

  • Mike: October 26, 2020

    Was there several times for then Devil Rays games, the 1995 Arena Bowl, the 1998 Sweet 16 (where I saw Paul O’Neill in the stands, and saw Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, and Jorge Posada on the way out), and the 2009 St Pete Bowl (UCF vs Rutgers). Saw Darryl Strawberry hit the top ring back in 1999 where the ball was still rising…probably the hardest ball I saw hit in person, and may have left the old Yankee Stadium. Location stinks, but when you are there in person, it’s not as drab & dreary as it looks on TV.

  • Steve Cecil: October 26, 2020

    Well, that just looks…terrible. Like a 1970’s cupcake design. Hope the Rays win the series and get the ballpark of their dreams!

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