The Tampa Bay Rays have announced Tropicana Field renovations for 2019, including plans to reduce the fixed seating capacity and create new social spaces.
With the upcoming reconfiguration, Tropicana Field is expected to feature an estimated seating capacity of 25,000-26,000 compared to a previous 31,042. Among the key components of the project will be the Left Field Ledge, an area that will include premium seating for groups and new social spaces. Additionally, the club will add new LED lights throughout the ballpark and concourses, close off the upper deck, and install a new Shaw Sports Turf playing surface.
“These renovations mark our continued commitment to providing a first-rate fan experience at Tropicana Field,” Rays President Matt Silverman said in a press statement. “Together, in concert with the reduction in seating capacity, these investments will help create a more intimate, entertaining and appealing experience for our fans.”
According to the Rays, their investment in Tropicana Field upgrades is more than $50 million since 2005, including over $15 million in the past two years. Per an announcement from the Rays, renovations to Tropicana Field for 2019 include the following:
Offering more social gathering spaces with the creation of a new common area, the Left Field Ledge (formerly the tarped seats above the left field crosswalk) to include a full-service bar, ledge tables, and seated drink rails;
Redesigning and enhancing two primary fan entrances (Gates 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 calendar 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 with the replacement of 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 level which reconfigures the ballpark seating areas to include the first, mezzanine and second seating levels, as well as the new GTE Financial Party Deck, and concentrates fans closer to the field of play.
Social spaces have become a common feature in ballpark renovations over recent years, and that trend is continuing into 2019. Another example of this comes in Miami, where the Marlins are adding new social spaces to Marlins Park ahead of next season.
The Rays spent much of 2018 in pursuit of a new ballpark in Tampa’s Ybor City, but announced last month that they were ending negotiations, leaving questions about their long-term facility plans.