After a string of tough PR moments this offseason, the Tampa Bay Rays made a change. Today, the Florida ball club announced that they are going to begin renovations at Tropicana Field. While they search for a new site for a new ballpark, the Rays will re-vamp the Trop in order to create a “first-rate fan experience.”
That means shutting down the 300-level, the uppermost seating section of the ballpark.
The cheapest seats in Tampa are now gone. It’s now more expensive to see the Rays play in a vacuum bag.
“These renovations mark our continued commitment to providing a first-rate fan experience at Tropicana Field.Rays President Matt Silverman
Together, in concert with the reduction in seating capacity, these investments will help create a more intimate, entertaining and appealing experience for our fans.”
The proposed shutdown of the upper levels of the Trop will take away roughly 5,000 to 6,000 seats. The cheap seat removal drops the dome’s capacity to around 25,000. The smallest ballpark in the MLB just got smaller, and it’s one step above a Minor League park after this move.
If the Rays host a World Series Game, their max attendance would be less than that of the College or Little League World Series.
Let that sink in.
The 2018 Tampa Bay Rays saw 1.15 million fans come to Tropicana Field, the 4th worst turnout in franchise history. Since their 2008 World Series run 2008, the turnstiles have slowed at an alarming rate. Looking ahead, 2019 is on pace to see the lowest attendance since 2003. It’s hard to ask for a new stadium when you can’t fill the one you currently have.
So what comes next for a team who can’t seem to find a home, a fanbase or a break? It’s tough to tell. But if Cy Young Winner Blake Snell and a reinvigorated roster can’t put butts in seats, what can? It might be time to drain the tank that holds the Rays.
Both the literal and figurative tanks.
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