Home of the Tampa Bay Rays
Experience the Park Tropicana Field Fan Guide
Babe Ruth was Here
Besides the 2008 season that saw Tampa Bay record its first winning record and post-season appearance, the 11-year history of the Rays isn’t long on highlights. But that doesn’t mean downtown St. Petersburg hasn’t seen its share of baseball legends.
Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the 1920s New York Yankees worked themselves into shape each spring less than a mile from the site of Tropicana Field at historic Al Lang Field. The diamond was the spring training home to the Yanks and a few other teams over the years, and the Rays have trained there since their inception. The Rays, however, announced they’re moving down the coast beginning in 2009, and the small stadium may be demolished to make way for a proposed new home for the team. The field, now awkwardly called Progress Energy Park, Home of Al Lang Field, is located on Tampa Bay directly east of the dome.
The first and last stop for many Rays’ fans is Ferg’s Sports Bar, a block north of the dome on Central Avenue. This sprawling venue is St. Pete’s unofficial sports bar, and Rays’ fans pile in before and after every game. Less raucous but still popular with locals and fans is the Cider House, a hole-in-the-wall a couple of blocks away.
Most of the activity downtown seems to branch out from Central, which is home to a nice array of restaurants, bars, shops and interesting characters. It may be surprising to some, but St. Petersburg has become a pedestrian-friendly city, and the dome is within a 10-15 minute walk from most of the action. And downtown sidewalks are littered with bronze ‘home plate’ placards that deliver tidbits of baseball history.