Posted: Tuesday September 12, 2006 10:28AM; Updated: Tuesday September 12, 2006 12:23PM
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
St. Petersburg, Fla. :: Opened: 1990 :: Capacity: 45,000
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
Average Ticket Price: $17.09
Average Cost of Concessions and Souvenirs: $68.00
How expensive is stadium parking? FREE: 92% $5-$10: 5% $10-$15: 3% $15-$20: 0% More than $20: 0%
Is public transportation a viable option? Never: 79% Worth it if you have a lot of time and patience: 12% A good option to avoid rush hour: 3% Pretty easy if you know the system well: 5% The only way to go: 0%
How would you rate traffic getting to and from the game? To the game: A slow-moving parking lot: 6% Slow, but usually steady: 16% Moves well outside of rush hour: 32% Aside from the occasional bottleneck, it's good: 35% A smooth ride at all times: 11%
From the game: A slow-moving parking lot: 9% Slow, but usually steady: 23% Moves well outside of rush hour: 24% Aside from the occasional bottleneck, it's good: 34% A smooth ride at all times: 10%
How would you rate the number of restrooms for men and women? Bring a map: 4% It depends on your section: 11% Never more than a short walk away: 28% A satisfactory amount: 24% Plenty: 23%
How long is the wait to use a bathroom? Always available: 61% 1-5 minutes: 33% 5-10 minutes: 4% More than 10 minutes: 0%
How would you rate the variety of food/beer concession options? Limp hot dogs, bland peanuts, even blander beer: 4% Nothing fancy, but the staple foods are tasty: 15% A little variety of food and drinks available at specific locations: 24% A nice variety but locations are spread out: 43% You name it, they have it around almost every corner: 13%
How much will a meal at the ballpark cost you? $5-$10: 15% $10-$20: 77% $20-$30: 5% $30-$40: 1% More than $40: 1%
How would you rate the entertainment options aside from the game? Nonexistent: 9% So many games/promotions and scoreboard highlights that the game is lost in the background: 3% Typical mascot antics/scoreboard quizzes and fun music: 49% Some unique promotions/antics, but it sometimes distracts from the game: 14% A nice balance that draws your attention when the game is stopped but doesn't distract from the action on the field: 23%
"It's special, depressing and annoying all at the same time -- a multipurpose facility meant to accommodate baseball. Everything about the Trop's design flows from one goal: cost savings. It did its job; it brought a team to an area that longed for one." To many, though, that means watching the Rays play at "a warehouse with a baseball field in it." At least it's a climate-controlled 72-degree warehouse, offering a respite from the high temperatures that usually scorch the area. In a rare instance of a team actually heeding its fans' concerns, "the Devil Rays have done a great job of perking up the Trop; it looks and feels great." It doesn't hurt that parking is free at the park. That's right, we said free. It also has some modern-day quirkiness thanks to a new touch tank full of rays in right field. Unfortunately for the organization, the Trop also plays host to a lot of transplants from the Northeast, lending a decided visiting team advantage in games against the Red Sox or the Yankees.
"Try to park on the same side of the expressway as the stadium. That's where most of the bars and restaurants are." With its cheap, cold beer and great food, Ferg's is "a must before and after the game," especially if you like a party atmosphere. The neighborhood around the park can get deserted fast, though; for more varied options, make a trip a few blocks away toward the bay and its shopping, eating and museums.
2006 record: 57-86 (all statistics through Sept. 10) Players worth the price of admission: Carl Crawford (.305 Avg., 78 runs, 49 SBs), Scott Kazmir (10-8, 3.24 ERA, 163 Ks)
Tropicana Field is an example of the popularity that offering a bargain can buy. Outside of the cigar bar and the sting-ray touch tank, the Trop doesn't have much in the way of character -- there's little nearby outside of a popular sports bar, and the team stinks year after year. But parking is free, tickets are cheap and concession fare won't cost you your weekly take-home. Plus, there's Major League Baseball in St. Petersburg. That formula won't be as enticing in a few years, but while the team is still relatively young, it's working.