First and foremost I want to take this opportunity to thank the Tampa Bay Rays organization for leaving me some amazing tickets to see my Red Sox take on the Rays on Saturday. They knew full well that I am a Red Sox fan and were still generous enough to give me some tickets to check out their house.
So now that I have checked the Trop off of my MLB parks visited list, I can give a much better take on the Rays stadium issues.
I definitely picked a great day to visit the Trop for the first time. The crowd of nearly 24,000 was a solid mix of Rays and Red Sox fans as you would expect, but I would say the edge went to the Rays fans. In walking around the building I do think that there were more Rays fans.
I noticed something else as my fiancee and I strolled around the Trop…I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the house. We stopped in left, center and right field randomly to watch a batter or two, and had a perfect view from all corners of the park. My seats though were even better.
I was about 25 or so rows up directly behind home plate. How good were the seats? Well I was only a few rows behind Magic founder Pat Williams.
The game itself was great too, other than the fact that the Red Sox failed to show up to play. Wade Miley and Matt Andriese both pitched great, and the game flew by. Outside of the great pitching, every single run was scored by way of the home run. So both pitching, and power on display at the Trop on Saturday.
The Rays did go on to win 4-1, and as is typical with my life as a Red Sox fan it was the only game the Sox lost this weekend.
Now that I’ve told you about the game itself, let me talk about the stadium.
Yes, the location is horrible. It’s difficult to get into St. Pete, but I saw a lot of construction on the way that makes me think they’re trying to make it easier…but it doesn’t make it closer. It was 40 minutes from downtown Tampa to the stadium on Saturday.
Moving the team to the other side of the bay could be a solution, maybe more people go if it’s closer to the downtown area…but then again, how can we know that for sure. All I can do is speak for myself and say that driving to the Trop from Orlando was rough.
Besides that…I loved the Trop.
I struggle to fully enjoy domed stadiums because it just isn’t the same, but I do understand the need for domes here in Florida…and have been at enough rainy Marlins games in the past to truly understand it. I think if you take the dome off the Trop and the weird cement walls, it would look awesome as an outdoor stadium. The outfield facade with the scoreboard and video board are really cool.
I already talked about the views before, so I’m just reiterating it now…not a bad seat in the house. Beyond that, the festivities were great too. The Rays do a good job of keeping fans constantly entertained throughout breaks. With Pepsi bottle race, DJ Kitty and the disco dancing to go with the 70’s theme of the game, it was a blast to be there.
The only negative I can draw from my experience at the Trop is the dome. Again, I’m not a fan of domes. I loved the Trop, I loved Marlins Park when I visited it…but there was one major setback…
The baseball smells don’t exist.
There is a special smell of a baseball game. The food, the grass, the fresh air. It’s an amazing smell that can’t be duplicated and just doesn’t exist in an air conditioned building. I only smelled “the smell” once. It was while we walked through the corridor and passed the food court…which I couldn’t eat at.
Since I couldn’t eat the food, I can’t review it…but man did it smell good and the menu’s looked amazing.
All in all, my opinion of the Trop has changed immensely. I made my jokes over the years, but now I understand the difficulty for Rays fans to make it to the park. I also now know, first hand, that the Trop is a hell of a place to catch a ballgame.
I can’t wait to go back again!
Any and all feedback welcomed! Get me on Twitter (@Ditti33) or via e-mail at ditti@740TheGame.com!