The Tampa Bay Rays are renovating Tropicana Field for the second time in as many years, reducing the stadium's capacity from 31,042 to between 25,000 and 26,000.
Coming off a 2018 season in which the team won 90 games but drew Major League Baseball's second-worst home attendance average (14,258), the Rays are hoping to improve the atmosphere at the Trop while they continue to seek a brand-new facility. Owned by former Goldman Sachs partner Stuart Sternberg, the Rays since 2005 have invested more than $50 million in renovations of the building, which debuted in 1990. As reported by Bloomberg, the current renovation will close the upper deck and open up premium seating in lower left field.
"These renovations mark our continued commitment to providing a first-rate fan experience at Tropicana Field," Rays president Matt Silverman said, as reported by MLB.com. "Together, in concert with the reduction in seating capacity, these investments will help create a more intimate, entertaining and appealing experience for our fans."
Intimacy over capacity has been a trend in sports venue design and renovation that AB has followed in recent years.
As for the Trop's latest alterations, Rays beat writer Juan Toribio offered an itemized list:
● Offering more social gathering spaces with the creation of a new common area, the Left Field Ledge.
● Redesigning and enhancing two primary fan entrances (Gate 4 and 5) to improve the flow of fans through increased access points and wayfinding features.
● Exchanging the current turf for a new Shaw Sports Turf product, designed to withstand the myriad events held at Tropicana Field throughout the year.
● Adding access from the Budweiser Porch and Ballpark & Rec areas to the Outfielder bar behind center field, as well as creating an external entrance to the food and beverage space.
● Redoubling the organization's commitment to sustainable energy practices by replacing the existing field lights with energy-efficient LED lights, improving overall on-field playability and entertainment lighting throughout the ballpark.
● Elimination of the upper deck, which reconfigures the ballpark seating areas to include the first, mezzanine and second seating levels, as well as the new GTE Financial Party Deck. This will bring all fans closer to the field of play.