By the 6th inning on Saturday there couldn’t have been more than 10,000 people at Fenway Park for the Rays-Red Sox game. Why? Because it was 35° and raining. And nobody likes baseball when it is cold and rainy.

And yet for some reason, Domes are considered sacrilege in baseball. We love baseball as much as anybody and we have no idea why it is so terrible to play baseball indoors.

In the NFL, a sport that thrives in bad weather, domes are perfectly acceptable. The NFL loves bad weather so much, they will schedule a January playoff game in Green Bay to start after dark. And yet, five teams play in domes and another four teams play in stadiums with retractable roofs.

We have no idea why the NFL gets a pass and the Rays don’t.

We have been to many Rays games at The Trop. We have seen several games at the Superdome. And we are not being biased when we say that The Trop is a better fan experience hands down.

So why do people hate indoor baseball? We wonder if this is just one of those things that gets ingrained in people’s minds and yet nobody ever stops to ask “why?”

 
 

38 Comments

  1. Beth says:

    I think there’s nothing like outdoor baseball, with real grass, on a pleasant day.

    Problem is how few pleasant days there are in most places where they play outdoor baseball. We all, for example, have to hope that the Twins never make it to the World Series now. Outdoor baseball….Minnesota….November….this doesn’t sound like a winning plan.

    It does strike me as odd that everyone — players, fans, the press, will go on forever about some of the minor inconveniences of playing at the Trop, but having games delayed by rain or distorted when players are slipping in the mud is OK. Surely baseball integrity suffered a greater blow when the Rays and Phillies struggled against appalling weather conditions in 2008 than when an occasional ball hits a catwalk. I’m not saying everyone should have a dome; I’m just saying that the rest of the league should shut up and enjoy the 72 degree temps in the Trop some August afternoon.

  2. cg says:

    shame, that sailboat stadium would have been the tits

  3. Greg says:

    I agree 100%. I enjoy going to the Trop. The fact is that too much of our season is played in pretty hot weather that would make attendance much worse. The catwalks can be annoying but rarely come into play. There aren’t many balls misplayed in the outfield because of problems picking up the ball. So it’s just become a cliche to knock the Trop. Funny that as the Rays have gotten better over the last few years, the fans of other teams seem to complain more about the Trop. Here’s to hoping the complaints continue!

    • Mark01 says:

      I have no idea how people can honestly think that we don’t need a new stadium.

      • Beth says:

        If you put this stadium in a location more accessible to the center of the population and even linked it to some kind of rail system, I think it would work. There’s nothing about the Trop that prevents fans from having a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

        • MJ says:

          agreed, if this stadium was in westshore, there wouldn’t be as big of a stadium issue. It’s the location much more so than the building.

          • Mark01 says:

            I think it’s a lot more the building than people want to admit.
            It’s drab and boring.

            I go to plenty of game a year, but would go to more if my wife enjoyed them more. She loves going to spring training games and to Rays games that we have gone to in other cities. She always comments that if we had a stadium like this then she would want to go all the time. I wonder if that’s the case for a lot of people.

    • I think the big problem with the Trop is not with the hardcore baseball fans, but with the more casual fans. In order to sell out a stadium here in the Bay Area, the stadium has appeal more to people who aren’t necessarily into the ball game. That’s why the Rays do all sorts of promotions (Family fun, Friday night, Saturday night concerts).

      Tropicana Field has some obstructed views, the concourse is pretty drab, and the seat rows are long with small seats. Also, the Rays pay a ton of money in energy costs keeping that place running.

      Now, do I mind baseball at Tropicana Field? Absolutely not. But, I do think the Rays believe they need a new stadium to be viable. For that reason, I’ve already started looking past Tropicana Field.

      • Mark01 says:

        Exactly.

        The trop is a place if you want to watch a baseball game. It has no atmosphere or amenities. If they want to get casual fans to the game regularly they need a new place

        • TheRevTy says:

          Yeah, while the Trop isn’t detrimental when it comes to watching and enjoying a game (though obstructed views and sightlines are pushing that envelope), it doesn’t have any charm as a building. Here in St. Louis, people will come to charity events at Busch Stadium even during the offseason just to look around the building. Doubt the Trop has any appeal like that. It is like comparing a 6 Flags to Disney. Yeah, the rides at 6 Flags are fine, and you can have a good time there, but it lacks the overall experience found at Disney.

          Plus, the field is rough on players’ bodies. That by itself should be a huge point for considering new options.

      • ramedy says:

        Yes indeed, it’s all about the casual fan (and not just in Tampa Bay, either). But what exactly could they put in a new stadium to make it that much more attractive to a casual fan? A roller coaster? Poker tables? I’m pretty sure location is a much bigger factor than the stadium.

        • Mark01 says:

          Ramedy,

          Have you ever been to a new state of the art stadium?

          Are you honestly asking what a place like Camden Yards, Safeco Field, or PNC Park could have that make’s it better then the Trop?

          It’s not about Roller Coasters it’s about atmosphere and the Trop has none

          • MJ says:

            I have been to several other baseball stadiums, and yes, most (all) are better than the trop. I would love a new stadium. The point we are making though is that the location is problem #1, where the stadium itself is #2 or maybe #1B.

        • ramedy says:

          Define “atmosphere.” What does that mean to me in the grand scheme of attending a baseball game? Look, I know the Trop isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the new parks, but how does that convince a casual fan to go to a game? Or even more challenging, a non-baseball fan?

          Actually, I do know what “atmosphere” means – it’s the Trop after the many renovations it underwent a few years ago. The old Trop was indeed a pit; the new Trop is actually pretty welcoming. After that though, I don’t see what wild innovations in atmosphere a new stadium could have to *permanently* improve the attendance issue (because of course there will be a temporary curiosity factor), at least more so than a location more conducive to better walk-up, casual business.

          • Beth says:

            I agree. I saw a game at Camden Yards — it was hot, there was gum stuck to my seat, and when I asked an usher to help me remove the gum so I could actually sit he handed me a small napkin and walked away. None of those things would EVER have happened at Tropicana Field. The “atmosphere” in Baltimore could not compensate for any of those inconveniences.

            Listen, if I had the money to start from scratch designing a stadium, Tropicana Field would not be my end product. But the idea that baseball is somehow “less” in that park I don’t think is accurate.

  4. Gus says:

    Another question I never see answered? If you had a retractable roof, how often would it be open during the season? I guess in Miami we’ll get an answer to it. My guess is not than many.

    If you had real grass, it would be preferable to watch and play a game indoors in the a/c most days in Florida during the baseball season. Anybody who says otherwise doesn’t live in Florida in July and August (like the guy from Rye, Connecticut, who owns the team).

  5. Mike says:

    The trop is awesome. Baseball at the Superdome is pretty cool too though. Tulane and LSU used to play there every year and the place would be packed. I don’t know if they still do this, but it was really fun.

  6. Don says:

    The Trop. is like a media whipping boy…esp. locally but.. national also…it is fashionable or flow type media to say the Trop. sucks, you need to move, ect., ect,…that way they (media) gets mutual agreement…
    But if you really want to know how the Trop. is perceived by the fans..ask them!….I have been going to the Trop. for years…. I have NEVER heard one negative response from a fan actually watching a game at the Trop. …they love it!

    • Mark01 says:

      I don’t think the problem is the fans that go. It’s the fans that don’t.

      And you honestly saying haven’t heard one negative response from a fan at the Trop?

      Well here’s one from someone who attends close to 30 games a year there. It sucks!

  7. Mrs. Weber would disagree with you. She doesn’t love the Trop. She tolerates it because I love baseball so much.

    • Beth says:

      Honestly, I don’t think any baseball stadium is so wonderful that it would have appeal to a nonbaseball fan once the novelty of the first visit wore off. I’ve been to Camden Yards and while I can appreciate the architecture and the setting, you are still eating crappy food in an uncomfortable seat on a hot day. If you don’t like baseball, where’s the fun in that?

  8. Beth says:

    But we’ve lost track of the original question…..the particulars of Tropicana field aside, is there something inherently inferior about baseball in a dome? Apart from the need to have artificial turf, and the toll that may take on players legs (and if that’s the biggest problem, is the development of a more “forgiving” artificial surface possible?)

    • ramedy says:

      Everyone did get a little sidetracked. I guess a good question would be: if the Rays got a new stadium, why not another dome?

      It seems like a lot of the complaints from players about the dome are about the catwalks getting in the way. I’m pretty sure 21st century architects could build a dome without ceiling obstacles – just don’t get the guy who designed the new Cowboys stadium.

      I’m with the Prof: in a sport so sensitive to weather, domes really do make a lot of sense. Sure, a retractable roof would be ideal; but it would also be expensive, no small consideration in the Rays’ dilemma. As much as I love the idea of outdoor baseball, I hate the idea of driving an hour and paying for parking before a rainout much more.

      • Beth says:

        I think that’s why the renderings for the now-defunct bayfront stadium proposal (with the “sail”) were intriguing — it seemed to be looking for a different take on the dome idea. Mind you, I was never sold on that design (I don’t think it would have really mitigated against intense heat/humidity or thunder storms) but I like the idea of seeking design/engineering solutions that improve on what’s out there. Although, as you note, wildly expensive designs will not work here.

  9. Dustin says:

    i’m no hater of the trop–it’s become a great place to watch a baseball game. that said, baseball is very much about aesthetics, i think. there really is something about being outside on a summer day (or evening) looking at and smelling the grass and the dirt at a ballpark, hearing the crack of the bat, feeling the breeze (one hopes), eating peanuts and having a frosty cold beverage.

    i’m a fan of gator baseball, but i can’t get worked up about the ping of aluminum at mckethan stadium. similarly, the weird motley greenishness of the turf at and the heavily catwalked roof at the trop kind of detract from the experience. again, i think it’s a great place to see a game, but–particularly in these early months–i can’t see a game in there without wishing i could look down at grass and up at the sky.

    i’m not sure it’s worth tens of millions of dollars to appease my aesthetic tastes, and i bristle at the extent to which the dome has become a whipping boy for media commentators and other haters, but i can understand why some people feel underwhelmed by the trop.

  10. alan says:

    The Trop is a great place to watch a game. I am a season ticket holder and would not be if I had to sit outside during our summers and early fall. I love the a/c and the dome to prevent rainouts. I live in eastern Hillsborough county and would not like to drive that far for a rainout!

    The larger the crowd the better the atmosphere and that is true in any stadium. My wife and I love the Trop and see no reason for a new stadium. I have been to significadng number of other MLB stadiums and I wouLd not trade for any of them for our area.

    • Mark01 says:

      Wouldn’t a new stadium most likely have the same. I can’t see them building a new one without a retractable roof or at least something that would help with the heat and rain.

      I don’t think the Rays have said anything about any stadium without some sort of covering.

    • Mark01 says:

      One more thing…..You really wouldn’t trade the Trop for Miller Park, Safeco, or Minute Maid? This is crazy talk

  11. Sean847 says:

    The problems with the trop aren’t that it’s a dome.Any baseball park in Florida should pretty much be required to at least have a retractable roof if it isn’t a dome. Anytime I hear people on tv or the radio that live up north talk about how “the weather in Florida is so great! Why on earth are they in a dome?!?” I laugh at how ignorant they are of how fantastic it is to sit in the sun for 4-5 hours in 90 degree+high humidity weather, and how often it rains.

    The rays playing in an air conditioned building is a *plus* for people here in the summer.

  12. TheRevTy says:

    I warn you, this is long, but thought out, and hopefully an easy read:

    There have been many arguments made against Tropicana Field, and a few in favor of it. Often, these reasons are filled with bias and vitriol. But let’s look at it in a rational fashion.
    On the plus side, it is wrong to say that the Trop is not an adequate place to watch a baseball game. Because of the extreme weather in central Florida, be it the heat or the rain, it makes sense to at least have the option of playing baseball in a controlled environment. Many a Rays fan has muttered the benefits of a dome during a road rain delay. Even more people have praised the Trop during the sweltering walk from the car to the air-conditioned home of the Rays. After a series in Boston that saw meager crowds do to cold and rain, Rays fans are undoubtedly wondering why the Rays would be willing to take a hit in attendance. Clearly there are benefits to playing indoors.
    However, I think it comes down to community. I know that sounds strange, but stick with me here. My comparison situation is Busch Stadium in my current town of St. Louis. Yes, I know this is a rough comparison, given that the Cardinals are the Yankees of the NL in one of the most baseball-crazed cities in the country, but, again, stick with me. The new Busch Stadium is located in the shadow of the Arch, just off of a major highway. In fact, as you drive, you can see right into the stands and down to the field. It is a marvel to behold. The brick exterior, the red seats, the green outfield, it is all an aesthetically pleasing sight. When you are in the stadium, you can see the skyline, see the cars on the highway, you are in the city. From the outside, it lures you in. From the inside, it reminds you where you are and who the team is playing for. Cheering for the Cardinals doesn’t bounce off the roof and reflect back onto the field, but instead pours out into the city, into the sky, to the heavens. Walking through downtown, you can hear the roar of the crowd when a run is scored, see the fireworks when Pujols cracks another homerun. Sometimes, if the traffic isn’t bad, you can even hear the organ. In essence, it is as though the city itself is a fan of the team, as though the skyscrapers of downtown are part of the crowd in attendance. It creates excitement and a desire to be part of it all. As strange as it sounds, moving to St. Louis has renewed my fervor for the Rays. I want to be a part of the baseball community. You want to garner interest in the community? Make the excitement contagious. Let the community in on the fun. Don’t let them escape the joy felt when watching baseball. There is a reason Target Field is out in the open. The Twins have sold out every game this season. Why? The excitement is contagious.
    Compare that to Tropicana Field. It is enclosed, contained.. Sure, once inside, it is a raucous affair, and those in attendance are part of a community, and of course are comfortable, but what effect does that have on the locals? I love basketball, the Magic are my true love, but I’ve always been a bit disappointed by the experience. You don’t feel excitement when walking up to Amway Arena. Sure, there are fellow fans, and there are spotlights, but the whole thing is contained in an otherwise nondescript building. It is indicative of the current culture, where people drive in their soundproof cars, with their own climate controlled bubble protecting them from the elements. There is a reason people buy convertibles. There is something appealing about being in the open air. Baseball, moreso than any other sport, is as much about experience as it is anything else. Make the experience shared in the community. Don’t give them a chance to ignore how enjoyable it is to watch the Rays play baseball.
    Ultimately, this is why I loved the idea of the sail on the Waterfront Stadium proposal. It gives you shade and, if designed properly, would allow the breeze off of the water to cool the stadium down, but the game is still out there. The noise can still escape into the community. Does there need to be a way to escape the elements? Sure. But don’t let the community escape the game.

    • I definitely agree with much of what you are saying and I believe most of us agree that the Sail Stadium would have been amazing. But many of the things you use to describe Busch also apply to a place like Camden which is downtown, right off a major highway, close to their waterfront entertainment area. And for a while the stadium alone attracted fans even if the team sucked. But that only lasted so long. Meanwhile, the Twins had no trouble drawing crowds to the much larger Metrodome when they were winning World Series. Sure there is an excitement to Target Field and from what I hear it is one of the best. But eventually it won’t be new anymore and teams can’t build stadiums every 10 years.

      But I do understand what you are saying about the experience in baseball. It is different than other sports. It is more relaxing. More family oriented. And yes, people do prefer to be outside.

      • TheRevTy says:

        Clearly you can’t rely on the stadium alone to draw in a crowd. Eventually they have to value the product on the field. But that isn’t the Rays’ problem. They have an exciting team, but they are having a hard time garnering interest.

        I ask you: If the point of a dome is to make viewers comfortable, why wouldn’t they just stay home and watch from their living room, where they have a couch, the beer is cheap, and they get HD close-ups? The whole point of getting people to actually attend games is the experience – how do you make that experience better than if you watched from the comfort of your own home on your plasma screen. That is what the Rays need to figure out.

        • Beth says:

          Of course that’s true — for some the ultimate comfort will be in their living rooms and you can’t compete with that. And of course the experience is important both to attract casual fans and even to get serious fans to increase the number of times they attend. But the weather here makes outdoor baseball extremely UNCOMFORTABLE in June – Sept, no matter how many bells and whistles and freshly mowed lawn aromas they can provide. If they can make the numbers work for a retractable dome or some other sort of quasi-indoor experience, great. But as big a baseball fan as I am — I will not attend an outdoor game here in August.

          • TheRevTy says:

            Having lived regrettably far from water for far too long, I ask: Do you think an open air stadium, properly designed to harness breezes off the water and utilizing a covering to produce shade, would be tolerable? I seem to recall a decent clip of wind coming off of the water from my time living on either side of the state.

            In other words, is there anything, apart from actual air conditioning, that would make an outdoor stadium work in the middle of summer?

        • ramedy says:

          As much as I don’t mind a dome, I’m a little ambivalent to the whole heat issue with an outdoor stadium. Yes, it’s a concern, but I’m not sure it’s that big a deal.

          Due to their location on the Gulf, Houston has a very similar temperature and humidity situation to Tampa. The Astros played in a domed stadium for a long time, until they started playing at Minute Maid Park in 2002. Looking at their average attendance, it doesn’t appear to be significantly different. There’s actually a dip in the first two years in Minute Maid, but that may have had as much to do with team performance.

          Point being, it doesn’t seem like people in Houston are having trouble dealing with the heat and humidity. I know there are hundreds of factors to consider here – the biggest one being that Houston’s population has gotten quite large lately – but I’m not trying to put together an ABC report here. It just strikes me on the surface that having the “luxury” of an indoor stadium right now is possibly causing us to overstate the influence of weather on attendance.

          I’d love to hear from someone who was in Houston when Minute Maid was built. Was there weather panic?

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