Home of the Tampa Bay Rays
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Stadium Capacity: 45,000
Fans stepping inside the main entrance to Tropicana Field are greeted by a soaring, eight-story high rotunda that was modeled after the one at old Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. It’s doubtful any of them will be overcome with nostalgia, however, as the Trop is hardly a baseball purist’s dream field. But the dome’s unique tilted roof gives it some character (it’s lit orange after a Rays win), and it does have a cigar bar, live rays swimming in a tank in the outfield and, for the first time, a winning baseball team on the (artificial turf) field.
Now that the Rays have a squad there’s a reason to go to the Trop beyond wanting to get out of the heat or being in the Tampa-St. Pete area with time on your hands. When you do make the trip, try to come from the south across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that spans Tampa Bay. It’s the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world at 5.5 miles. … If you have time, head down to the St. Pete waterfront to check out The Pier, with its various shops and restaurants, and nearby Al Lang Stadium. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the rest of the 1920s Yankees worked themselves into shape at the historic ballpark, which may be torn down soon and turned into the new home of the Rays. … Heading back to the Trop, there should be plenty of places to park along Central, and that gets you in position for your next stop … Ferg’s. The huge sports bar is a local institution, so grab some beer and crispy wings and head to the huge outdoor area to hang with some Rays fans. This is a good spot to pick-up a ticket if you still need one. … Looking for something a little less raucous? Try the Cider House a couple blocks away, which is popular with locals. … Get to the park early and check out the starting line-ups posted in the 8-story rotunda at the entrance, which is supposed to remind you of old Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Head directly to the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall-of Fame in centerfield and browse the collection of memorabilia. The Splendid Splinter never played for the Rays, of course, but made his home in the area. … The Ray Tank, a 10,000-gallon pool in centerfield that contains about 30 cownose rays, is also worth a look. You can even feed the rays for a couple bucks. … Many of the food options at the Trop are of the chain variety, so stick with the Italian sausage with peppers and onions, or seek out the Columbia Restaurant stand for some Cuban food. … Once you’ve settled into your seat, contemplate the tilted roof and the four rings of lights and catwalks that hang from it, and try to figure out the park’s confusing ground rules – click here for our take on the 'Rings'… If you need a break from the action, the Trop has a restaurant and three bars, including a cigar bar, although you can’t see the field from there. … Better to wait until after the game for that, when you can stroll over to Central Cigars for a post-game puff and a drink in a nice comfortable setting.
Ferg’s, 1320 Central Ave. N, (727) 822-4562
Cider House, 1752 Central Ave., (727) 822-7400
Central Cigars, 273 Central Ave., (727) 898-2442
Wise Guide Tips / Know what the locals know, go where the locals go
At Wise Guides, we believe “spectator” should be a verb. Not because you should suck down 12 beers, run on the field and try to take the first baseman’s job — you shouldn’t. It’s because there’s so much more to going to a game than simply sitting in your seat watching the action. There are stadiums and neighborhoods to explore, food and drink to try, history to learn and interesting people to meet. Try our Wise Guides tips, they are funny, helpful and, we hope, interesting.
Beware the Rings
Domed stadiums have earned the ire of baseball traditions and even casual fans who wonder why you’d ever want to play or watch America’s game indoors. Then there’s this: some of these high-ceilinged shr... Read more »