The Tampa Bay Rays on Friday announced a renovation plan for Tropicana Field that will reduce the seating capacity to about 25,000-26,000 for the 2019 season as the club attempts to improve the game-day experience for fans.
The announcement came about a month after the Rays said they were abandoning their plans to build a new stadium in the Ybor City area of Tampa but remained committed to the Tampa Bay area.
The changes include the creation of a lower-level Left Field Ledge that features premium seating for small groups and the closing of the upper deck.
The Rays averaged 14,258 fans for 81 home games in 2018, which ranked 29th out of 30 teams, ahead of only the Miami Marlins (10,013). The Trop’s seating capacity in 2018 was 31,042.
“These renovations mark our continued commitment to providing a first-rate fan experience at Tropicana Field,” Rays president Matt Silverman said in a news release.
“Together, in concert with the reduction in seating capacity, these investments will help create a more intimate, entertaining and appealing experience for our fans.”
Among the planned changes at the Trop for the 2019 season:
▪ Offering more social gathering spaces with the creation of a new common area, the Left Field Ledge (formerly the tarped seats above the left field crosswalk) to include a full-service bar, ledge tables, and seated drink rails.
▪ Redesigning and enhancing two primary fan entrances (Gates 4 and 5) to improve the flow of fans through increased access points.
▪ Changing out the current turf for a new Shaw Sports Turf product, designed to withstand the myriad events held at Tropicana Field throughout the calendar year.
▪ Eliminating the upper-deck level, which reconfigures the seating areas to include the first, mezzanine and second seating levels, as well as the new GTE Financial Party Deck, and concentrates fans closer to the field of play.
The Rays said that season-ticket holders who purchased seats in the upper level for the 2019 season will have the option to relocate to an upgraded location.