The Tampa Bay Rays are in the middle of a $1.2-million upgrade to Tropicana Field, and they're hoping it's the last such improvement they'll have to make to their domed home.
Work is well underway to remove the restaurant that, for the last 15 years, occupied the middle of centerfield. The imposing green structure will be replaced by an open-air patio in what the team calls the 'Rays 360' plan.
As the name implies, the changes will give fans will the ability to walk around the entire lower bowl of the stadium uninterrupted -- something the Rays hope will improve not only the fan experience, but also the sales of concessions.
"Our fans right now can't go enjoy concessions without leaving the playing field, and so now they'll be able to walk throughout the lower bowl, get their concessions, and go back to their seats without actually losing sight of the game," team president Matt Silverman told FOX 13.
The project will result in the removal of around 3,000 seats, the team said -- mostly to accommodate the new outfield walkways. Capacity for regular season games at Tropicana Field in 2014 is expected to be 31,042.
The Trop's last major overhaul was mostly cosmetic, about the time when the team's name and logo were changed from 'Devil Rays' to 'Rays.'
"This was the first major enhancement we've made in the last five years, Silverman said, "and we're hoping that, five years from now, we'll be looking at enhancements somewhere else."
That "somewhere else" would be the new stadium the Rays hope to build somewhere, someday. But not very soon.
"You know, even if we tomorrow had an agreement to build a new stadium, it takes three years to get into one. So we know we're here for that long and probably longer," offered team vice president Michael Kalt.
So after this work is done, don't look for any other big changes to the 27-year-old stadium.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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