There was reasonable skepticism when it came to the proposals for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida. The aggressive new proposal for a stadium that would have probably repeated the legacy of 1964 Astrodome is history. Stuart Sternberg, the owner of the Rays, admits that the team is stuck in Tropicana Field through 2027. The lease goes through 2027 and had an option for negotiating out for a new stadium. Now, with the Rays stuck in a disaster dome for the next nine seasons, it is time for some needed upgrades.
Tropicana Field is one of the ugliest stadiums in Major League Baseball, next to the crumbling Oakland Coliseum and allure-less Rogers Centre. The stadium is a complete concrete eyesore, with similar designs to a jai alai stadium. The stadium is a concrete cavern outside with some palm trees and a nice logo for Tropicana Field. There is some blue areas, such as around Gates 5 and 6, to help the color, but it is still very ugly.
Inside, Tropicana Field is even worse. The entire stadium just feels dark. There is lighting inside for the television cameras to see what is going on. These lights also make it a legal field. However, there is still the illusion of darkness on the cameras and it just looks awful. Instead of the $800 million for a new stadium, it would cost a lot less to get proper lighting around the stadium to lighten the experience. Television cameras tend to brighten the scenery in general, but they do not help the Trop. Getting proper lighting would make the stadium a lot better.
The second problem does not have an immediate solution, and it involves the roof. Unlike fields like Olympic Stadium, Tropicana Field has a permanent roof, resulting in catwalks and beams holding the roof up. Depending what catwalk you hit and what item on the catwalk you hit, it could determine the outcome of a game. Players have complained about what it hits causing what call. The ground rules stink. The solution of preference is to make everything that hits a catwalk a ground rule double or a home run rather than rules that make it an out. Rules that involve a light on the catwalk making a difference are a problem.
The next problem involves the location of bullpens. Several stadiums suffer from this, but Tropicana Field needs a proper bullpen area. The players in the bullpen are at risk of getting hurt with their bullpen warmups right next to the field of play. At the same time, the players involved in a play risk getting hurt tripping on a random bullpen mound. Why MLB has not outlawed this is beyond me. It is a massive safety risk. It would be a radical change, but moving the bullpens in a little bit and walling it off would help enormously. Players on the field would not get hurt tripping over a mound.
Ultimately, the future of the Tampa Bay Rays seems bleak now that the Ybor City proposal is dead. Montreal and Portland are probably drooling over the chance to get themselves a new team.
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