Home of the Tampa Bay Rays
Ugly, ugly, ugly with zero atmosphere.
Good friend Fritz and I were in St. Pete yesterday to catch the Yankees and first place Rays on their Thursday afternoon getaway game. It was, in fact, my first experience of indoor baseball (I have been to Phoenix but they had the roof open that night). While my expectations were quite low for the venue/experience - they were exceeded within 10 minutes of parking and finding Ferg's (http://www.fergsonline.com/index3.html) and having my first beer. Ferg's is a huge open-air bar and it was hopping before the game. A beer in hand we found Nick Panagoulis (madtix.com) who had a fistful of tickets. We bot two about 20 rows behind the Yankees dugout for just over face ($50). Keep in mind it was the Yankees game, we talked to a guy that went to a Royals-Rays game earlier in the year and he swears there were less than 1,000 people there. Announced attendance was 19,966, my guess was closer to 12,000. Tickets are the least of your worries at this park. Anyhow, we did not eat anything at Ferg's, but were told that the Crispy Wings were the ticket. If you are going to drink a lot we suggest buying 32-oz plastic cup for $4 (domestic) and that allows for $3 re-fills. The stadium itself was clean and had LOADs of food options and entertainment. The usual foodcourt conglomerate crap, but we stuck to the basics - a dog with Kraut for our kraut friend Fritz and a loaded Italian and a Rolaid for me. Lots to do for the kids, including an arcade, baseball carnival area - two batting cages and pitch speed test cage (no I did not test the wing out) and finally a cool area where they have a Ray pool overlooking right-centerfield. They have 22 Sting Rays swimming in pool ala Seaworld and for $4 you can feed them smelt or clams. For adults they had the Batters Eye in centerfield, $31 all you can eat buffet in restaurant overlooking centerfield. I did not partake, but had a look and was unimpressed. Also, the green windows overlooking the field were a little off-putting to me. This may just be my bias against going to a domed stadium and then sitting INSIDE a restaurant to eat sliced beef at a table with linens. The other minor disappointment was the in-stadium cigar bar. We walked over and found that it did not have a view of the field - so you can buy a cigar and watch the game on a flat screen, not sure what the appeal is to that since you already paid to be at the game. The seats, sightlines and scoreboard were all good, although the ball and strike operator appeared to be sleeping at times. The roof has wires and walkways all over it and it is distracting on flyballs - the players had no issues, however. All in all a good day in St. Pete with the Rays winning 5-2 on 5 shut-out innings from Kazmir (he was on a pitch count) against an under-manned Yankee line-up - Shelley Duncan was batting fifth ! After the game we found Central Cigars at 273 Central Avenue and finally enjoyed a cigar and scotch before heading home.
Great one day trip from Boca with BIG JOHN, little Kurt couldn't make the trip in a cramped brand new Chrylser Town & Country. Cooler full of beers and Red Bulls did the trick. Ferrel on the SAT, shankin it up!!!