Today the Tampa Bay Rays announced a new series of capital improvements and renovations for Tropicana Field, featuring the reconfiguration of the ballpark’s seating capacity to an estimated 25,000–26,000.
Among the improvements being made for 2019:
- installation of LED lights throughout the stadium
- an updated turf designed to withstand multipurpose uses of the field
- the creation of the Left Field Ledge—a new area in the lower seating bowl with views of the playing field
- and, significantly, the closure of the upper deck level
“These renovations mark our continued commitment to providing a first-rate fan experience at Tropicana Field,” said Rays President Matt Silverman. “Together, in concert with the reduction in seating capacity, these investments will help create a more intimate, entertaining and appealing experience for our fans.”
Per a team press release, the Rays have invested more than $50 million in Tropicana Field renovations since 2005, including more than $15 million in the last two years.
These 2019 capital improvements and renovations will upgrade fan amenities are intended to offer more social gathering spaces, a concept in line with the team’s Ybor stadium design proposal.
The Left Field Ledge (formerly the tarped seats above the left field crosswalk) highlight this initiative, and will include a full-service bar, ledge tables, and seated drink rails. The Rays will also create access ways from the Budweiser Porch and Ballpark & Rec areas to the Outfielder bar behind center field.
The elimination of the upper deck level reconfigures the ballpark seating areas to include only the first, mezzanine and second seating levels, as well as the newly named GTE Financial Party Deck, concentrating fans closer to the field of play during the regular season.
The Rays will also be redesigning and enhancing two primary fan entrances (Gates 4 and 5) to improve the flow of fans through increased access points and wayfinding features, and will also create an external entrance to the food and beverage spaces.
Most noticeable to fans viewing the field on television will be the new turf and LED lighting.
By exchanging the current turf for a new Shaw Sports Turf product, the Rays should have more flexibility to schedule year-round events on the field. By installing LED lights, the team is redoubling the organization’s commitment to sustainable energy practices by moving to the energy-efficient LED lights. The upgrade in lighting is likely to improve the television viewing experience, and may also improve overall on-field playability.
Season Ticket Holders will have an opportunity to explore these enhancements to the ballpark at Fan Fest, presented by Tampa Bay Times, on February 9, 2019 with their exclusive early access. Season Ticket Holders who have purchased seats in the upper level for the 2019 season, will have the option to relocate to an upgraded location.