Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tampa Bay Rays

Fans of Oakland rejoice...a team has beaten you for worst overall baseball/hot dog experience. Just like Oakland, Tampa Bay needs a new ballpark and they know it. The tired Tropicana Field is an old dome stadium that, even with its crooked top, struggles for a baseball feel. It has more of a music venue vibe, which on this night it was. After the game, fans were treated to a Joan Jett concert, perhaps the highlight of the entire experience. After the once over from Tropicana Field security, which makes a TSA run through look like a vacation, I wandered the narrow concourses of the concrete behemoth in search of the perfect dog. The good news is that the dog, once I finally acquired it, was quite tasty. On the main concourse, the 100 section, there was a nice selection of toppings in which one could dress his dog to near perfection. One big problem, you know I am on a budget, which means I always get the cheap seats. Up in the nosebleeds (at $21 bucks a seat) the dog costs the same, is the same, but the the toppings are limited to mustard, ketchup and packet relish. Not the same extravagant layout as in the lower, more expensive sections. Clearly there is a disparity here, and it is called class warfare in some circles. I asked several members of the Rays staff, but no one had a reasonable answer. There were a few tap dances around the question, but no answers. For a $21 dollar ticket, I want the same toppings as the folks in the box seats. Even though I requested it, no discounts were given on my dog. I had to take the ramp two levels down to get a dog that I could properly dress...while missing an entire inning of baseball.  And using the ramp means passing through the smoking area. Cough….cough.

How Topping SHOULD Be
The ballpark itself is in bad need of replacement. It has the smell of someone’s old basement, and the artificial turf is a green I had not seen since the Brady Bunch went off the air. I am pretty sure Mrs Brady had a kitchen appliance that color. The turf is nasty and looks like the carpet in a $25 a night seedy motel. While I had promised in an earlier blog to never bitch about indoor baseball again, I won’t, but the three circular light banks that surround the inner dome roof look like the mothership from the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is about to descend on you. But enough about how much I love the Trop. How about the dog.

Bun-almost fresh.
Taste-the Kayem frank was pretty damn good. I was pleased with its quality.
Toppings-in the Trop it is the haves and have nots. Great on the 100 level, crappy on the 300 level. This needs to change. Are you listening Rays?
Price-$5 is not over the top, but far from the best price I have seen.
Portability-just when you thought it could not get any worse than the paper boat, there is the ¾ paper boat with an open end. Not sure what that is about other than it is pretty useless.
It Factor-there is the dog, the jumbo dog and the Heater (with chili). The heater is a cool name so I give the Rays an extra half point for that.

Location-it is on the fringes of downtown St. Petersburg. Not the best of locales, especially, since the team is called the TAMPA Rays.
Access-not super easy to access, but it does have a walkable factor to it for some close residents.
GA Ticket Price-I tried to cut the Rays some slack since there was a Joan Jett concert included, but $21 for the cheapest seats is way too much. And I am a huge fan of Joan Jett.
Cleanliness-Tropicana field can be summed up in one word: dingy. There is some obvious rust that needs attended to and it appears maintenance is not a priority.
Fans-Saturday game, concert included and the Rays could still only fill about 40% of the seats.
Teams move because of that kind of support.
Ambiance-I have seen more sports ambiance in some man caves.

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability2GA Ticket Price3
It Factor2.5Fans3

The bottom line here is that Tampa Bay needs a new ballpark, preferably in Tampa. Or move. They also need to treat their fans equally. I don’t expect skybox treatment in the cheap seats, but I do expect the same service and condiments as those on the lower levels. The greater Tampa area has a plethora of baseball to see, and many of those play in small, cozy and swanky MLB spring training facilities. My recommendation is to bypass Tropicana Field and catch a game at one of those ballparks. You can spend the money you save on a CD of Joan Jett’s greatest hits.

No comments:

Post a Comment