Rays Plan to Close Upper Deck Seating, Reduce Capacity to 26,000

Rays Plan to Close Upper Deck Seating, Reduce Capacity to 26,000

Rays Plan to Close Upper Deck Seating, Reduce Capacity to 26,000

The Tampa Bay Rays on Friday announced a renovation plan for Tropicana Field that will reduce the seating capacity to about 25,000-26,000 for the 2019 season as the club attempts to improve the game-day experience for fans.

"These renovations mark our continued commitment to providing a first-rate fan experience at Tropicana Field", Rays President Matt Silverman said.

Tampa Bay averaged just 14,258 fans per game in 2018, ahead of only the Marlins, and hasn't topped 20,000 in average attendance since 2010, two years after the team's surprise run to the World Series.

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg wants a new ballpark before the club's lease expires in 2027 at the former Suncoast Dome, where the team has played since its 1998 debut.

The Rays have been seeking a new facility, and have said they're committed to remaining in the Tampa area.

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The team, owned by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Stuart Sternberg, averaged 14,258 at the domed stadium last season, better than only the Miami Marlins among Major League Baseball teams.

Since 2014, Tropicana Field has had a seating capacity of 31,042. It will include a full-service bar, tables, and seated drink rails.

Team officials say tarping off the upper deck will move fans closer to the field.

The addition of access from the Budweiser Porch and Ballpark & Rec areas to the Outfielder bar behind center field as well as the creation of an external entrance to the food and beverage space. The team is also replacing the current field lights with energy-efficient LED ones.

Season ticket holders in the upper deck level will be able to switch their seats to the press level or outfield for no additional cost. Those who have already purchased upper-level season tickets will be able to relocate to a different location, according to the release.

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