SBD/November 14, 2013/Facilities

Rays Planning Tropicana Field Renovations; New St. Pete Mayor Digs Into Ballpark Issue

The Rays are making a "major renovation to Tropicana Field, creating 360-degree circulation by adding walkways behind the outfield seating areas and opening up what was the dark glass-fronted Batters Eye restaurant into an open-air meeting spot," according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The renovation "won't affect the stingray tank, and there will still be a standard size batters' eye, possibly mesh." Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg "would not confirm specifics but acknowledged a project was under way" (TAMPABAY.com, 11/13). NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra wrote, "I am pleased with the fact that the Rays are doing the best they can to make it better, given what they have to work with and how few ways you can really improve the place" (NBCSPORTS.com, 11/13). Rays P David Price talked about the franchise's attempts to draw more fans and said, “I feel like they’ve tried quite a bit of stuff, whether it be with the parking or bringing stuff in and out of the park.” Price: “It’s tough whenever winning isn’t enough. But if they can find that one thing that’s going to get those fans to come out a couple more games a year, something like that, everything helps” (“Hot Stove,” MLB Network, 11/13).

NEW GUY, OLD ISSUE: St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman yesterday met with current Mayor Bill Foster and said that he "came away with a new understanding" of the Rays ballpark issue, and it will be "the most pressing issue facing his new administration." Kriseman: "It's always interesting to get the other side of the story." He added that he has "reached out" to Sternberg, but the two "have not yet been able to connect" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/14). In Tampa, John Romano writes any "local insights to be gleaned from the Braves' surprising dash to a neighboring county most certainly depend on your point of view," but the news "could not have been better" for the Rays. It "reinforced the team's contention that a major-league franchise's worth is incalculable in the right location." For St. Petersburg, it was a "precedent to consider," but for Hillsborough County, it "had a high degree of sticker shock." Cobb County "may be somewhat of an anomaly in terms of a suburban location, but it's hard to deny that baseball teams usually get what they want when it comes to stadiums." The Rays "will eventually get a stadium," but the "hard part is figuring out when and where" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/14).
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