When I moved to South Florida in June 2012, my Mom said she was going to take my family and I to Busch Gardens. I reminded her about that in April, and she booked a trip when the Red Sox would be playing the Rays at the Trop. I have seen Tropicana Field countless times on television, and I still remember watching the Red Sox play the Rays in the 2008 ALCS.
On the 11th, we went to Busch Gardens for the day, and at 4:00, we left the park. We wouldn’t leave the hotel until 4:35 because the shuttle to the hotel took a while and I had to get my stuff together. We finally got into the car, and we left for the 1/2 hour drive to Tropicana Field. When we hit downtown Tampa, there was traffic for 4 miles- that is about 20 miles an hour with numerous stops- and there wasn’t even an accident. There was just construction 20 feet to the side of the road. After we hit St. Pete, there was more traffic- and we hit it twice before getting off the interstate. Just before we got off, I saw this:
I had actually seen Tropicana Field before- it was in the air while flying to Birmingham in 2012 to visit my Grandparents:
This was the first time I would go inside. I thought it was a little weird visiting Tropicana Field before Marlins Park, but I didn’t care- I was just happy to be there. The match-up:
I arrived on 1st Street south and 16th Ave, which is closer to the stadium than the parking lot. I walked up to the stadium and noticed a large line at one of the gates:
However, I wanted to be at a specific gate, which you will see later. As I went to find it, I passed by this:
A baseball painted onto a storm drain- I haven’t seen anything like it. I also passed by a deserted Gate 7:
Then walked over a smelly canal:
It smelled like a sewer. Pretty nasty. Then, I approached the gate I was looking for:
That would be Gate One, or “The Rotunda”. It is the main entrance of Tropicana Field, and looks great inside. If you look closely in the above picture, you might notice the Rays Team Store:
I walked up to the line in front of the security checkpoint:
After a short wait, I walked up to get my backpack checked. When the security guard finished, I thought he told me “Okay”, but he stopped me and told me to remove my cap. I have never been asked to do that, but I guess that’s what you have to do to prevent terrorism.
I had a ticket print-out, one of those ugly pieces of paper that says “this is your ticket” from the computer, so I went to the ticket office to get it exchanged for a nice, clean ticket stub:
That picture isn’t too good because the word “Gate” is cut off. Anyways, I went up to the window and asked the man for a ticket stub. He had no idea what I was talking about (?) and he told me the print-out is my ticket. I tried to explain to him what I wanted, and he asked another person for help before telling me he couldn’t help me. Notice how a HIGH A ballpark can help me out with that but a major league ballpark can’t.
Throughout this post, you will see “strikes” that would eventually leave me in a bad mood on the way out. I went up to the doors of Gate One:
Then scanned my ticket and went inside:
That is what you saw walking in. Here is what it looks like as you leave:
As you can see, you don’t enter through a gate- you come in through doors. I found that to be a little weird.
As I walked through the concourse, I failed to take any pictures. I just wanted to get to batting practice right away. I walked past this little opening, and from there, you could see the upper deck:
I went up to the left field seats to find out that the Red Sox canceled batting practice. I didn’t know about the 14 inning game the night before because I didn’t have access to the internet. Then, I noticed (and failed to photograph) a large crowd around the Red Sox dugout. I decided to wait over there for the Red Sox to come out. The first player to walk out was David Ross, but he said he would sign later. There were some other fans near me, and we were talking about the Red Sox. Pretty soon, Juan Nieves, the pitching coach, walked out with Jon Lester, who would be the starter. I saw Juan at this game. He told me he would sign for me at one point that day, but never did. He completely ignored me, and nobody walked out for another ten minutes. While I was waiting, I noticed the security guards talking. Then, they walked up to the crowd. They said, ” If you don’t have a ticket to this area, you have to go to your seat.” I looked at the time: 6:40. The game wouldn’t start for HALF A FREAKIN HOUR and the security guards kicked us out. Then, I noticed the Rays side wasn’t disturbed at all.
I thought about going to the Rays side, but the ushers were checking tickets to that area. THE STADIUM CAN’T SELL OUT EVEN IF THE RED SOX AND YANKEES ARE IN TOWN AND YOU WON’T LET US INTO AN AREA 30 MINUTES BEFORE THE GAME STARTS?!?! I was so ticket off, so I decided to find my way to the upper deck to explore the stadium and that I would get the winner’s autograph.
The upper deck is very steep:
During the game, I took pictures to compare-
The Red Sox Side:
The Rays Side:
As you can see, they didn’t come near a sellout crowd.
There were a couple of things that ticked me off inside the Trop. One- My camera took lots of blurry shots because of the low light. Two- The Ushers wouldn’t let me into the 100 level seats, and my camera can’t zoom in well enough to take a great action shot. Because of that, I won’t have my player photo’s after I blog about the game itself.
Tropicana Field has a neat feature in center field that is open to fans of all ages- the Rays touch tank:
There are live stingrays in the tank, and you can pet them and feed them, although I’m pretty sure you had to pay to feed them. Entry was free, but I never made it up there. I wanted to take pictures from that location, but that was the closest I got to the tank. Here is the view from the seat I was in:
At one point in the game, I decided to go to the Rays team store. I was on the 300 level at the time, so I decided to take a ramp down to the 100 level. Tropicana Field has several ramps on the outside of the park, and they allow you to take them to different levels. Smoking is even permitted on the ramps:
Here is the actual stadium from this ramp- I don’t remember which one it was:
If you look closely, there are bats with MLB logos on them, and up on top are baseballs.
Back to the team shop story- I found the team store and looked around, just to see the prices. I thought about getting a Mini-Bat, which was $10, but decided to come back later to buy it. When I came back, a man in the store told me they had a David Ortiz bobble head for $15. I decided to buy it, and as I was leaving, the lady standing next to him said, ” You got lucky. People have been coming in here all day asking for Red Sox stuff, and that is all we had”:
I realize that wasn’t a great shot, but I will show a better one at the end of the post. I forgot to take any pictures of the team shop, and I don’t have many of the concourse. I also decided to get something to eat:
Yes, all I put on it was ketchup, but that is how I wanted it. It tasted great, and I got this cup to go with it:
Tropicana Field has four rings, or catwalks, on the roof of the stadium:
Stadium personnel actually walk on the catwalks, I guess for maintenance. I also saw on television that walking on the roof is like walking on a trampoline. Seems fun, yet scary at the same time.
Whenever the Rays hit a home run, a loud horn goes off. The Tropicana sign in right field starts flashing, and the orange squirts out juice. Here is the sign before:
That picture was taken from the right field seats. Here is the orange during a home run:
To go along with how frustrated I was, my camera was acting up. It wouldn’t focus in time to take pictures quickly. I would have to mess with it before it would focus and take a picture. As you can see, the orange juice is lit up during the home run, but not in the other picture.
Here is the upper concourse, far into foul territory towards the end of the game:
Here is something painted onto the lower concourse:
Notice how my camera messed up. I was walking through the concourse, and when I noticed this, I took a picture. I didn’t notice my camera rotated it, and when it is displayed on my computer, it faces the correct direction. Here is something near the Rotunda:
Directly on the other side of the concourse is the Ted Williams Museum:
It featured cool exhibits, but I only took a couple of pictures, like these:
I failed to get a picture of Raymond, the Rays mascot, up close, but I do have this picture:
I also saw these Aquafina mascots:
The Rays won, 8-3, and whenever the Rays win, Raymond runs out with a flag that says “Rays Win” as the horn goes off. When you walk out of the stadium, you will see an orange roof:
Here is where it gets fun. I stood near the Rays dugout for the top of the ninth, and when the final out was recorded, I rushed through a group of fans to get a spot for autographs. I watched as Raymond ran in the outfield with his flag, wishing I could take a picture for the blog. However, I was on the verge of being shut out. I saw two players that I could recognize- Fernando Rodney, and I was the first to call out his name. He walked past me and several other fans begging for autographs. There was a large group of kids next to me, and they had to wait through this:
Todd Kalas was interviewing Matt Joyce for SunSports, and now that I looked at the picture, I notice Desmond Jennings is being interviewed in the background. Everyone was calling out his name, but the interview started. Everyone was silent. He finished the interview, and all you could hear was MATT MATT MATT MATT PLEASE SIGN MATT MATT SIGN. I thought he left, but he was on the Rays scoreboard. A few minutes later, security said, “Sorry guys, but everyone is gone”. That ticked me off.
After everyone left, I went to search for ticket stubs, because of my print out. This was 5 MINUTES after the game, and as I went to search, the ushers said, “You are walking the wrong way”. I had to go up the stairs and leave Tropicana Field without an autograph, a ball, or a TICKET STUB. I was furious- not because my Red Sox lost, but because of stadium security. Plus, my mom wasn’t where she dropped me off, so I had to search for her.
That final strike is for the security, not for my mom. I took some pictures of the players on the scoreboard:
That picture is my “Final Score” for this game, 8-3. Here is a former Red Sox:
Who can forget Big Papi?
I did leave Tropicana Field with some souvenirs, though:
This is the Rays game-day magazine, called “Inside Pitch”. It has some neat facts on Rays players.
My David Ortiz bobble head. I might have to take back one of the Rays strikes for this- or, maybe not.
I got some pocket schedules for my collection. I think this is one of the better designs of pocket schedules.
No, I didn’t get these at Tropicana Field. They came from my hotel, but I thought I would throw it into this post.
Tropicana Field, in three words, was:
The Rays staff did their best to keep fans happy, and the players can really put on a show. Thanks for reading! I think my next game will be Sunday, June 30th, but if not, there will be one from Birmingham, Alabama in early July.