Although located an hour and a half outside of Orlando in St. Petersburg, spending an evening at Tropicana Field cheering on the home baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays, is certainly worth the drive. The domed stadium, built in the 1990’s, is located in downtown St. Petersburg, easily accessible from the I-275. The enclosed grounds ensures that no game will ever be cancelled due to Florida’s many summer thunderstorms, and the temperature inside stays at a cool 72 degrees at all times. Parking is simple too; Tropicana Field has large on-site parking lots, usually costing $15 per car. However, as a constant visitor to the Rays games, I recommend parking in one of the many off-site lots, usually costing $5.
Tickets for the games are easy to obtain. Ticketmaster and Stubhub offer cheap ticket to every match. There are also walk-up windows at the stadium that open a couple of hours before the game starts, for those vacationers who don’t have access to a computer. While it is exciting to sit in the outfield and down closer to the field, the best seats in the house are the ‘nosebleed’ seats, offering a great view of everything going on. The Rays rank 5th in cheapest ticket prices in the entire league, so taking the whole family won’t break the bank.
Friday games are Fan-Fest days, where the first 10,000 guest are given a free prize, usually a team t-shirt. Sundays are Family Fun Days and there is typically a free giveaway for the first 10,000 kids aged 14 and under. On occasional Saturdays throughout the summer, free concerts are offered after the games, from the likes of ZZ Top, Train, Earth, Wind and Fire, and many more. To see a complete schedule and promotions visit the Rays website.
If you’re worried about the kids (or adults) in your family getting bored during the game, there is plenty to do around the stadium. One of the favorites is the Rays touch tank, an interactive aquarium overlooking the field that enables fans to get up close and personal with several different species of stingrays. Additionally, there are carnival-style games scattered throughout the stadium to entertain the kids. Other amenities include a two-story team store, a create-your-own-baseball-card booth, a baseball museum and an MLB 2K12 video game area.
If hunger finds you during the nine innings it will be just a quick walk to one of the numerous concession stands. The Trop offers your standard ballpark food: hotdogs, hamburgers, peanuts and popcorn, but there is a big variety of different foods available, ranging from chicken wings to Cuban sandwiches to nachos. There are a few Papa John’s pizza stands strewn around, along with an Outback Steakhouse. Tropicana Field also sells alcoholic beverages.
Whether they’re surrounded by the chants of “Let’s Go Rays,” the dancing of DJ Kitty, or the waving of cowbells, everybody is guaranteed to have a great time at the game. Heading down to Tropicana Field is an exciting yet cheap way to experience America’s pastime.