5 Tropicana Field Tips For Newbies | Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays

5 Tropicana Field Tips For Newbies | Tampa Bay Rays

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you’re going to a Tampa Bay Rays for the first time, there are a few things you should probably know, and I’ve included some of my favorite Tropicana Field tips here. The Trop is one of the more wallet-friendly venues in baseball and won’t break your bank, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few ways to save on a trip to the game.

visiting tropicana field tickets

Stay to the right!!!

Visiting Tropicana Field, Tip #1: Check the secondary market. The Rays are the lowest drawing team in baseball, so with the exception of a few high demand games like Opening Day and weekend Yankees games, you can almost always score a great deal on secondary outlets like TickPick. If all you care about is getting in, though, you can buy the cheaper seats at the box office.


visiting tropicana field tbt benches

You can spread out a bit here.

Visiting Tropicana Field, Tip #2: Buy the cheap seats. As stated, the Rays don’t draw big crowds, so you can almost always move to a better seat if you don’t get greedy. The upper level especially is almost universally the same price for seats, so no one is likely to care if you move a few rows down and closer to home. In the lower levels the ushers are more likely to give you a hard time, but you could probably find a decent place to sit.


visiting tropicana field parking

Everyone chip in here.

Visiting Tropicana Field, Tip #3: Carpool to the game. The Rays offer free parking to cars with four or more people riding in them; it’s offered to the first 100 cars for Sunday games and most every car for other games. When was the last time you parked for free in a team’s parking lot? On top of that, tailgating is allowed in most lots, so you can have your buddies bring some grub since you took care of the parking.


visiting tropicana field cuban sandwich

“Cuban?” “No, Dutch Irish.”

Visiting Tropicana Field, Tip #4: Try the Mac Bat or a Cuban sandwich. The Mac Bat is probably something you’ve never seen before; it’s a breaded cone shaped like a baseball bat (obviously) full of mac and cheese, which is then topped with chili, layers of bacon and jalapenos. Yes sir.

But there’s also the classic Cuban sandwich, which is as good a go-to items here as any…ham and gooey Swiss cheese on pressed bread. There are other cool food stuffs too, but the Mac Bat and Cuban are best for first time visitors.


visiting tropicana field fergs

And when Ferg talks, people listen.

Visiting Tropicana Field, Tip #5: Post-game at Ferg’s. Ferg’s is more or less the only tavern within walking distance of the Trop…it’s right across the street in fact, and you can park there fairly cheaply if you don’t have enough folks in your car for free parking. Ferg’s has decent wings and other food, inexpensive drinks (at least compared to inside the Trop), and it’s an indoor/outdoor bar with a great atmosphere. Most Rays fans always make Ferg’s part of the game day experience.

There you go; five useful Tropicana Field tips to make your Rays game experience a better one. The Rays are happy to get people into the ballpark, so they offer lots of deals on tickets and parking. All you need to worry about is what you’re spending your food dollar on.

More about Tropicana Field:

Tropicana Field Seating – The tbt* Party Deck

Three Foods to Try at Tropicana Field

Why Don’t The Rays Draw?

Tropicana Field Seating Tip

Posted by Kurt Smith

Here is my best Tropicana Field seating tip: Don’t pay more than you have to.

OK, let me start this by saying I don’t necessarily condone moving into a seat that you didn’t pay for. It really isn’t fair to people who did pay for those seats, especially when they are the premium seats that cost a second mortgage.

However, I don’t recall ever minding someone keeping a good seat warm that belonged to me, so long as they get out of it immediately and didn’t break wind too much.

My philosophy on moving to a better seat is this: it’s okay so long as you don’t get greedy. If there’s 10,000 people in the ballpark, and you move from a seat that’s in the upper level in the outfield to an upper level seat behind home plate, that’s not going to bother me.

If I paid for the Legends seats at Yankee Stadium and someone who bought a bleacher seat distracts an usher enough to sit next to me, I might not be too happy about that. And there are some premium spots on the Tropicana Field seating chart.

(continued below)

tropicana field seating left field

Chance of catching a foul ball: Excellent.

Anyway, to my point. The Rays average about 15,000 a night for most games. When the ballpark is barely half full on a good night, and if I wasn’t planning to sit in a premium seat, I would just get the cheapest ticket in the ballpark (which, at present, is for the tbt* Party Deck in left field) and move somewhere behind home plate out of everyone’s way.

In my last trip to the Trop my seat was behind home plate anyway, and it wasn’t too expensive. But the three of us moved around and checked the ballpark out from different perspectives (all part of the job) with no problem whatsoever. By the end of the Tampa Bay loss we were sitting in seats that probably cost three times what I paid.

My guess is that by the second or third inning, you can improve your lie to a much better seat, so long as you’re not trying to get the field level seats in the infield. Just be ready to move if the nice usher asks you to.


More about Tropicana Field:

Visiting Tropicana Field – Five Tips For Newbies

Free Parking at Tropicana Field

Three Foods to Try at Tropicana Field

The Tropicana Field Party Deck

Posted by Kurt Smith

Tropicana Field doesn’t have a lot of retro classic ballpark feel going for it, which is what makes the Tropicana Field Party Deck special. Sorry, forgot the sponsor, the GTE Financial Party Deck.


tropicana field party deck seats

Just a few rows to get to the all-important private concourse!

The Rays, like most teams in baseball, have to offer special enticements to get people to sit in the worst seats in the venue. In this case those seats are in Party Deck, formerly known as the Beach.

These seats are in the highest level in left field; imagine the view from the Green Monster seats at Fenway without the prestigious experience (or the prestigious cost!). Not to mention that they’re bench seats, great for touching cheeks with your neighbor.

So what’s the advantage of the Party Deck? Well, they cost the same as the upper reserved tickets and are as such the cheapest seats in Tropicana Field. And being separate from the rest of the ballpark, chances are you won’t have to wait in line for your Cuban sandwich, always a plus.


tropicana field party deck concourse

The Trop has colorful concourses.

But it’s a very different atmosphere…the concourse area behind the Party Deck is designed like Ybor City, with bright colors, gas lamp style lights and concession stands like the Ybor Cantina selling Cuban sandwiches. The bench seats give the area a bleachers feel, as if you were channeling your inner Wrigley Bleacher Bum.

In other words, the Tropicana Field Party Deck wouldn’t be the section of choice for most fans.

But here’s what’s cool about baseball. You still see people sitting in there. There seems to be a sense of belonging here. In the same way that the super-royal-Legendary-Lexus box seats in the newer ballparks give people a sense of belonging to an exclusive club distinguished entirely by income level.

Why pay $500 more to bond with someone, especially if they’re not even into baseball? It is, after all, still a ballgame.


tropicana field party deck section

The exclusive and prestigious tbt* Party Deck, now sponsored by GTE Financial. No cell phone dwellers allowed.

I know which group I’d rather hang out with, especially if I’m picking up the tab for my ticket. A smartphone addicted salesman who is still hashing out major deals in the top of the sixth of a one-run game with two men on is not my type of ballgame companion.

College kids could go just about anywhere outdoors in Florida and have a better party atmosphere. People could network anywhere in the Ybor City area in Tampa or somewhere in downtown St. Petersburg. But for whatever reason, they’d rather go to a ballgame and sit miles away from the action in an indoor stadium with artificial turf.

That’s my kind of fan.

Free Parking at Tropicana Field

Posted by Kurt Smith

Yes, there really is free parking at Tropicana Field.

At most ballparks you can find free parking somewhere, if you’re willing to walk at least a half a mile and/or risk getting your car towed. But for Rays games, you need only find three people to carpool with–admittedly a challenge with a team that inexplicably still has trouble drawing fans, but still a viable option.

tropicana field parking

Who is General Parking?

The Rays list this under “The Rays Go Green”, but apparently they’re most ecology-minded after getting out of church, since this option is only widely available on Sundays, while the rest of the week it’s for the first 100 cars in the lot. The applicable lots are Lots 2, 6, 7, 8 and 9; Lots 6 and 7 are closest to the field and are off of 10th Street west of the ballpark.

Not a bad deal, unless you’re one of those anti-social tightwad types who goes to the game with other people only so that they’ll chip in on the parking. In that case, there are further lots that charge about half of what the Trop does, but they’re a bit of a hike.

free parking at tropicana field lot 7

Free parking at Tropicana Field…in an “official” lot!

The best thing is that the “premium game” parking rate is even waived for this—the Rays say “all other games”, so from that I assume that you can even score free parking at Tropicana Field when the Yankees and Red Sox are in town. I probably shouldn’t mention this, since it may have been an oversight on their part. So don’t tell the Rays I told you.

Tropicana Field will never win any best ballpark awards, but it does have some things going for it, and one of them is that a Rays game won’t break your wallet in half. The upper reserved and upper box seats are perfectly reasonable and decent seats at that, and if you’re early enough you can bring some friends and park for free. And you know the game won’t be rained out.

Lots of bargains out there…all you gotta do is look. This handy little guide can definitely help you out.

More about Tropicana Field:

Visiting Tropicana Field – Five Tips For Newbies

Three Foods to Try at Tropicana Field

Tropicana Field Seating – The tbt* Party Deck


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Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

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Tropicana Field Food – 3 Things to Try

Posted by Kurt Smith

Like most ballparks, the Tropicana Field food menu is varied and goes well beyond hot dogs and popcorn, but the Trop is unique in that I’ve seen several items lately that I’ve never seen anywhere else…or more correctly, the popular items here aren’t featured much in most other ballparks.

Here are three food items that you could try when you talk about your visit to Tropicana Field; two of them are definitely unique to Tampa Bay baseball, and the Cuban Sandwich is pretty rare elsewhere too.


tropicana field food cuban sandwich

And if you finish all of these sandwiches, you get a free dessert.

Tropicana Field Food, Tip #1: The Cuban Sandwich. You have several choices of Cuban sandwiches at the Trop; there’s the stand that actually is called “Cuban”, but if you don’t like things too obvious, you can get one at the Bay Grill or at Pipo’s Café. I don’t know if they’re all different, but it seemed to me like the Pipo’s edition was heftier.

The Cuban sandwich is something of a go-to food thing in Florida; it’s ham, pork, and Genoa salami with Swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard on bread that is pressed to make the sandwich flat. Gooey Swiss makes any sandwich good.

In addition to the classic, the Cuban stands feature Cuban-style burgers with two patties added to the rest of the ingredients, or a veggie version with grilled vegetables and mozzarella. Remember, gooey cheese.


tropicana field food chicken paella

You’re not staying for dinner? I cleaned out my whole fridge for this!

Tropicana Field Food, Tip #2: Pipo’s Chicken Paella. I picked this one simply because I’ve never seen paella at a ballpark before, and if they’re gonna serve wings and chili, I see no reason why paella wouldn’t be included as a “ballpark food you need to sit at a table to eat”.

Pipo’s Cuban cafeteria joint has been in the Pinellas County area since 1979, so they’re pretty well known around here. At the Trop they offer Cubans, fried plantains, and beef empanadas, but the paella is the standout thing. I tried the empanada and it wasn’t great, but it was easy to eat at least.

In case you didn’t know, chicken paella is a mixture of chicken, rice, peppers and onions, with other meats like sausage and ham. Something like jambalaya but without the Cajun flavoring. A nice filling thing and obviously, something different at a ballpark.


tropicana field food duckys bowl

It’s time to go beyond fork and spoon. This thing requires a more advanced utensil.

Tropicana Field Food, Tip #3: Ducky’s West Tampa Bowl. Ducky’s Sports Lounge is Evan Longoria’s Tampa restaurant; it’s known for “creative cocktails” and four lanes of mini-bowling. The menu at the restaurant features unusual bar food like roasted Buffalo cauliflower, duck fat fried sweet potato tots, and quinoa burgers.

The menu isn’t nearly as varied at the Trop outpost of Ducky’s located next to the outfield porch, but Ducky’s does have the “West Tampa Bowl” here…marinated pork with sautéed onions in a bowl of brown rice and black beans. All served with plantain chips and mango vinaigrette. Try listing those ingredients when telling people about your ballpark meal.

Ducky’s is also a spot for healthier stuff, incidentally; they have turkey wraps and California salads here too.

There you go…three foods to try at Tropicana Field that you probably won’t find at most ballparks. (I’ve never seen paella anywhere else, anyway.) But there’s also gourmet grilled cheeses, the amazing mac bat, the hefty grilled cheese burger and of course, Chicago-style dogs. Stay tuned.

3 More Tropicana Field Tips For Fans

Posted by Kurt Smith

Hopefully elsewhere on this site I’ve helped you with a few Tropicana Field tips. Worth the trip just to learn how to make your World Series cheesesteak Philly-style, right? Here are a few more things not to miss at your next Rays game:


tropicana field tips rays tank

Because nothing is more baseball than touching slimy fish in the outfield.

Extra Tropicana Field Tips, #1: The Rays Tank. In the ongoing effort to add entertainment value to a ballpark that lacks retro feel value, the Rays collaborated with the Tampa Bay Aquarium to build the Rays tank, a 10,000 gallon tank in right field next to the Everglades BBQ restaurant.

People get in line to touch and feed the cownose rays swimming around happily, and you can watch the game while you’re petting the slimy critters. If that’s not baseball, I don’t know what the heck is.

Time in the area is limited and there is hand cleaner to use afterward. If you’re interested in the Rays Tank, it’s not far from the main rotunda entrance, and you should get in line early because the lines get long.


tropicana field tips walkway

When the kids get bored, have them count the tiles.

Extra Tropicana Field Tips, #2: The Mosaic Tiles Path. Splitting the parking lots east of the big white dome is a walkway of mosaic tiles, with over a million tiles depicting an aquarium of tropical fish.

It’s captivating anytime, but it is especially cool at night when lit up by the streetlamps above it. And if the Rays pull off a victory, you can have a look at the orange lit dome over the ballpark from outside. A nice two-fer.


tropicana field tips cigar bar

Can’t get this view outside of Florida.

Extra Tropicana Field Tips, #3: Cuesta Ray Cigar Bar (And The View). The Cuesta Ray Cigar Bar is a room for cigar smokers, with its own humidor, a billiards table, TVs to watch the game on, lounge sofas and a full bar. A great idea, and it is the only place other than the ramps where smoking of any kind is allowed in the Trop, although there is no view of the game from the room.

But the coolest thing about the Cuesta is the patio outside, in an area where weather is often very nice, and a view of St. Petersburg that is boffo at dusk. If the game isn’t quite holding your attention, it’s a nice place to see a fine view.

That’s a few things to check out at the Trop; be sure you’re getting the best deal on the best seats with this handy little guide.

Why Don’t The Rays Draw?

Posted by Kurt Smith

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You can read Why Don’t The Rays Draw here, in all its original and highly informative glory. Enjoy!




Some Props For Tropicana Field

Posted by Kurt Smith

Tropicana Field doesn’t often get near the top of most fans’ lists of favorite ballparks. Indoor baseball, which was a novelty for a few minutes after the Astrodome opened, isn’t nearly as popular for a summer pastime as it once was. But I think some props for Tropicana Field are due.

Then there’s that artificial turf that once threatened to take over everywhere when baseball seemed to care far less about tradition (unlike today, he says sarcastically).

But as someone who has enjoyed a few games at Tropicana Field, in the ballpark’s defense I will say that it’s not all bad. In fact, it can be a perfectly nice place to see a ballgame for a few reasons.

props for tropicana field welcome

The Trop makes you feel welcome.

The Trop has greatly improved in recent years. The Rays have done a lot to fix up the place and make it more appealing for fans, and they deserve a shoutout for that. It has bright blue seats, which blend well with the green turf on the field.

There is the the Porch in Center Field, a party area that replaced the Everglades BBQ, with drink rails and a full bar to watch the game party-style. The upper deck in the left field corner is a separate section called the tbt* Party Deck, and for lousy and mostly empty seats it’s got a neat bleachers feel to it.

The concourses, in this observer’s opinion, are the best in baseball. There’s more entertainment for the kids than I’ve seen in most ballparks, like interactive games, comic book style representations of baseball history, picnic areas, and of course, the Rays Tank…because what’s more baseball than feeding some fish and sliming up your hand in a tank in the outfield? I know that sounds sarcastic, but it really is fun.

Then there’s the huge statue of a Rays player sticking out of the wall to make a catch, appropriate for a defensive minded team and something that has to be seen to be believed.

(continued below)

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props for tropicana field rays landing

This is now the 162 Landing, for those who remember Game 162 in 2011.

If you’re into partying with your baseball, Tropicana is great for that, too. There are plenty of great party areas, like the multi-leveled deck in center field and the 162 Landing and Papa John’s bullpen areas that are decorated accordingly. If you don’t mind the possibility of getting clocked by a foul ball (pay attention!), the view is great and the party is very affordable.

Then there are the cowbells that clang whenever an opposing player has two strikes on him. I don’t care if they are professionals, I know it gets under the skin of some players, which is exactly the point. The cowbells are a uniquely Tampa Bay thing (at least in baseball), and it wouldn’t work as well in an outdoor venue. When there’s a full house (which, granted, is rare), the cowbells can really rock the place.

props for tropicana field 2008 champions

Who knew all they had to do was drop the “Devil” from their name?

The Rays have even manage to put a good team on the field fairly often, which can override the flaws of any venue. Despite one of the lower payrolls in the game, the Rays have been playing pretty well, contending for an AL East title quite a bit in recent seasons. Not an easy thing to do when sharing a division with the big-spending Yankees and Red Sox.

Best of all, the Trop is an affordable fun for the family deal. Between cheap tickets (no need to spring for great seats for a Rays game), free parking for cars with four or more, and being able to bring in your own food, the kids can have a memorable experience for a fraction of the cost of a day at Disney World, or any major attraction in Orlando, for that matter.

So while Tropicana Field may not score points for great views or neighborhood atmosphere or “retro feel”, in truth there’s no reason a baseball fan can’t enjoy a great day of baseball. One could argue that it’s even unique in its own way these days, with all of the retro-style ballparks across the country. The Trop is something different.

Enjoy it. At least you’re not sweating or ducking out of a thunderstorm. And get the most out of the experience when you read this handy little guide.

More about Tropicana Field:

Visiting Tropicana Field – Five Tips For Newbies

Free Parking at Tropicana Field

Three Foods to Try at Tropicana Field


Ballpark E-Guides free ebook

FREE eBook for traveling baseball fans! (That would be you.)

Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

You’ll also score this eBook, listing some of Kurt’s favorite sites for traveling baseball fans, absolutely free of charge…just for stepping up to the plate and subscribing.

 Get on base without swinging the bat…sign up today!

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