Tropicana Field History
Originally named the Florida Suncoast Dome, Tropicana Field's 1.1 million square feet include unique design features and fan amenities found nowhere else in Major League Baseball. The venue opened to the public on March 3, 1990, at a cost of $138 million. It became the ThunderDome in 1993 with the arrival of the area's National Hockey League expansion franchise, the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was renamed Tropicana Field on Oct 4, 1996, in accordance with a naming rights agreement between the Rays and Bradenton's Tropicana Dole Beverages North America.
Though originally built for baseball, there have been 14 other sports and competitive events held there. These include hockey, basketball, football, sprint car racing, gymnastics, soccer, tennis, weight lifting, table tennis, karate, motorcycle racing, equestrian events, track and figure skating.
In addition to the 2008 World Series, the facility was also home to the 1999 NCAA Basketball Final Four featuring Duke, Ohio State, Michigan State and eventual-champion Connecticut. The national semifinals and finals drew capacity crowds of 40,632 and 39,113 on March 27 and March 29, respectively. The largest crowd to date-47,150-appeared at the August 11, 1990 concert featuring New Kids on the Block. It is currently home to college football's Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game.
The facility has set attendance records in a number of sports. On April 23, 1996, a crowd of 28,183 attended Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers, the largest single-game attendance figure in NHL postseason history. The Tampa Bay Storm set the Arena Football League's single-game attendance record, drawing 28,746 for a 1993 game against Orlando.
In 1990, a then-record crowd of 53,150 attended the three-day Davis Cup tennis event. That same year, 25,710 fans saw the NBA's Chicago Bulls play an exhibition against the Seattle SuperSonics, the largest crowd ever to attend a basketball game in the state of Florida at the time. That figure was first surpassed during college basketball's 1994 East Regionals in Miami.
Tropicana Field closed its doors in October 1996 for a 17-month, $85 million facelift that transformed the facility from functional to intriguingly innovative, incorporating baseball traditions throughout the dining, shopping and entertainment complex while adding 319,000 square feet of space.
Since 2005, the Rays have invested an estimated $37 million into capital improvements at Tropicana Field. New for 2018, the Rays partnered with Levy to dramatically overhaul the food, beverage and retail experience. The Rays invested $7 million to renovate these amenities, including modernized "food halls" in the first and third base concourses and major updates to the porch in center field, the cigar bar and the Rays Brewhouse. Levy's retail division, Rank + Rally, moved into a renovated Tropicana Field Team Store.
Following the 2013 season, the Rays added 360-degree pedestrian circulation around the lower seating bowl. The improved circulation provides easier access to and from ballpark gates, concessions and activity areas throughout the facility.
Over 2006-07, the Rays invested more than $18 million toward improvements to Tropicana Field, including the creation of the Rays Club, the installation of new video boards and a sound system and the addition of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame located in Center Field Street.