Tropicana Field, Part Do? Tampa Bay’s Tug-Of-War continues

My mother and I moved to Tampa when I was 12 years old.  It was a lot like when Daniel LaRusso and his mom moved from New Jersey to Reseda except I didn’t have a magical karate coach and I never got to fondle Elisabeth Shue.

We moved from New York City where baseball reigned supreme to a town that had no baseball… but really, really wanted it.

Back in the early eighties, Tampa was thirsting for a team but the only pro ball to be found in the bay area was played in the springtime.

Back then, Tampa pushed hard for franchise relocation.  They were rumored to land the Mariners but that was before Ken Griffey, Jr. put on their uniform.  They were supposed to acquire the Giants but then Barry Bonds did his thing.  Tampa was even supposed to get the White Sox.  Needless to say, rumors of those teams relocating were just that…. rumors.

Ultimately, Tampa, or more appropriately St. Petersburg, built a fancy new dome stadium to attract potential teams.  The dome was fancy by 1980s standards.  It still is fancy… by 1980s standards.

Tampa Bay eventually landed a pro squad, the Devil Rays, in 1998, twelve years after the stadium was built.  Since then, the team has by most accounts overachieved considering how much money has been spent on payroll.  They even reached the World Series back in 2008 and got to host a few playoff games in their once-trendy, ballpark called Tropicana Field.

It wasn’t long before the Rays became that Christmas present everybody wanted then discarded once they became tired of the novelty.

Tampa Bay residents have come to complain about Tropicana Field.  It’s far to drive to, not conveniently located and most certainly doesn’t feature the amenities of other, more modern stadiums.  In short, the Trop lacks identity.  Furthermore, Tropicana Field is the only stadium in the nation that allows for “do-overs.”  That’s correct, if a pop fly hits one of the catwalks just under the dome roof, it’s ruled a dead ball.  I’ve humbly named the stadium “Do-Over Park” because it’s the only place I know where something like that can happen.

News leaked recently that Do Over Park would be receiving a makeover… in the form of a new stadium.  Just like before, the Tampa side of the bay has been pushing to build a new ballpark on the other side of the water.  This has been in the works for years.  Now it looks like it may finally happen, in Ybor City, much to the joy of every bartender in the immediate area.  I know one that’s ecstatic about the move, that is, if it happens.

The proposed site for Trop II: The Mediocrity Continues will be centrally located, tying together three districts in Tampa that get a fair amount of foot traffic: Channelside, downtown and the aforementioned Ybor City.

No ground has been broken though and nothing is set in stone.  While there was most definitely a buzz about the recent announcement, most fans took it with a grain of salt, the Rays giving us that ultimate “we’ll see.”  There’s no commitment from the team, no corporate money to finance a new stadium and, even if there is, no guarantee that if they build it, fans will come.  This is a Rays team that has consistently been at the bottom of the MLB attendance charts for years on end.  The Trop is not the only reason for that.  The on-field play lately has been hardly an attention-grabber.

And so, the good city of Tampa waits as we always have.

With new headlines comes new opportunity.  We’re even willing to grant the team a do-over.  They just have to put the ball in play first.

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15 Replies to “Tropicana Field, Part Do? Tampa Bay’s Tug-Of-War continues”

  1. The Rays still suck , but can I assume you now hold a Black Belt in some form of Martial Arts ?

    Jameis Winston now needs some solid legal representation . I assume you know of someone who can provide that ? Fondling a female Uber driver ? Ain’t JW got enough troubles as it is , having lost his starting role to Ryan Fitzpatrick ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!!!!!

  2. I came from New Jersey and grew up first a Mets then Yankees fan. My dad and I took many a bus trip with the VFW to these parks to see our teams play ball. Yankee Stadium needs no explanation, It was the House that Ruth built. Shea was ok and I actually got a thrill having 747s fly over my head in left field. There is nothing like the smell of the freshly manicured grass in an outdoor stadium. Watching a game under the lights was awesome. I personally like the Trop. I admit, the first game I went to there was a little strange, seeing baseball played in a dome on indoor/outdoor carpet. The light was so artificial and the warning track was rubber. However, I would not be a fan of sitting outside in 90 degree weather to watch even my beloved Yankees play. I am hoping if they do relocate the stadium, it has a roof and central a/c. And can you imagine the amount of rain-outs due to Summer thunderstorms?? Hell, they stop football games anytime they see a lightning bolt in Florida. I am all for a centrally located facility. Might even draw more Orlampa fans out to the games. But please, for the love of SP-30, keep it indoors. PS: Go Devil Rays!!

  3. I hate to say it but some of this sounds vaguely familiar to what happens in L.A., (that’s Los Angeles, not lower Alabama). The Rams relocated back to L.A. two years ago and the promise of a new stadium versus the old reliable Coliseum got, (and still has), fans excited. That was the initial wave. Then they moved back and had a less than desirable first year with then coach Jeff Fischer. But wait…change in coaching brought with it something almost unexplainable. I mean how could one coach with a talented team perform so poorly, and his replacement, with the same cast of characters perform demonstratively better? During and after their first season back i n L.A., fans were so disgusted I had friends selling their season tickets for next to nothing. This season, you can’t imagine how hard they are holding on to them. So outside of the fical nature of sports fans in LA LA land, plans are moving right along with the building of the new stadium and it seems like the team, given a second chance is making the most of it. I say to Tampa, don’t be like L.A. Give them a chance. Build it and they will come!

  4. Al…

    No black belt and no Elisabeth Shue but a pro ball club which is probably the worst of the three options.

    Yeah, so Jameis is responsible and calls for an Uber and STILL gets in trouble?

    I’m awaiting further details but this is another reason pro athletes should just never leave the house.

  5. Steve…

    Whatever they build, I think it’ll have to be a retractable roof. The weather is too gorgeous here in the spring time not to play outdoors but come July, we may want a little cover. And yes, as you suggest, from the rain and lightning.

    Like I said, we’re still waiting and probably will be waiting for some time to come.

    In other words, stay tuned.

  6. The problem here in Tampa, Mony, is that we don’t have that sort of coin.

    It’s not like Denzel and Co. could just write a check and boom! New stadium.

    Jeff Vinik has invested heartily in the area and the Tampa Bay Lightning have benefitted substantially as a result but no one expects him, or Rays ownership, to do that.

    I mean, they’ve been spending between 60-80 mil a year on payroll which consistently ranks near the bottom of the league.

    News came out that a site had been picked but the team never backed the decision. It’s been some pretty interesting politics over here and, as is most of the time with politics, we have still seen no results.

  7. I wouldn’t trust JW to be with the baby sitter , much less a bunch an under age school girls or an Uber driver male or female . LOL,LOL,LOL !!!!!!

  8. Just follow the Braves plan. New stadium with all kinds of attractions tied to it with a team that stinks tied to traffic nightmares. Glad I passed on my season tickets that I had for 10 years plus. Be careful what you wish for. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving – that part Is unrelated to the baseball topic.

  9. Moose…

    At least the Bravo’s had 14 straight division titles to fall back on. Not to mention a legacy. Rays come nowhere close to that.

    The modern formula for success in building stadiums is to put them near foot traffic in order to support local business as well as having a successful infrastructure to help alleviate traffic. Throwing it off an interstate in the middle of nowhere is no Bueno.

    I think this move will get done but I’d have to set the over/under at about four-and-a-half years.

  10. It’s a long day living in Reseda.
    I moved to from Pasadena to Reseda in 82….The height of the Valley Girl BS. Movie, song…Dreaded it. Danielsan & Myagido made it somewhat more bearable at the time because all of a sudden people heard of the armpit of the valley.

    The Rays already getting new digs? Shit, if it weren’t for Wade Boggs going there, I wouldn’t have know they even existed.

    Crazy that Dodger Stadium is the 3rd oldest park in MLB.

  11. Bleed…

    I moved overseas in the early to mid-80s to I missed a lot of the new wave. Fortunately.

    And I ran. I ran so far away.

    The politics of this new stadium continues. If and when it’s get built, it’ll be pretty sweet if they put it in that area or thereabouts. I think it’ll happen, eventually.

    It’ll just be slow rolling.

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