Tales From Section 212

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Tropicana Field about an hour before the Rays-Indians game of April 14th, 2016.

It was my fifth trip to Tropicana Field in the past four seasons, but me and my mother (quite a baseball fan in her own right) got to see the Rays and the Indians play Thursday afternoon. It was the ninth Rays game in the 2016 regular season and their seventh at home, but Cleveland won the game by blanking the hometown team 6-0.

Things have been better for the local baseball franchise, trying to stay competitive in a brutally tough division (the East division of the American League) against teams with better economies who, thus, can get better players. The price of attempting to improve the club has been passed on to us, the consumers.

We got the tickets a week ago, seeing a Rays “steal of the day” advertised during the first home series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Press level seats at the 200 level of Tropicana Field, usually $38, went on sale at half press if you got the tickets online through the Rays website.

When we got to the park, we noticed the price of various things had gone up. Last year, I got an all you can drink Pepsi for $10 that could be refilled free during the game. This year, the price is now $11, and you get a slightly smaller paper based cup as opposed to the larger plastic cups.

Jammed into the 200 level like sardines, I went off to the concession stand at 12:45, thinking I’d get back to my seat in time for the 1:10 first pitch. The problem is, on the first base side of the press level seating, there’s just one concession stand. On top of that, the people manning the stand are going VERY slowly. It takes a few minutes at a time for simple orders to be fulfilled.

At 12:55, the National Anthem is played. Hats (including mine) are self-removed from our heads (after a brief consultation with neighbors in the line to see what the proper etiquette is for such an event), and even the concession stand that I’m at has come to a halt. Nothing wrong at all with respecting the country, so I can’t fault them for that. By the time I get back to my seat with two $8 foot-long hot dogs, a $5 candy that my mother wanted, and a free Pepsi refill, it’s 1:15, and Chris Archer had already started throwing the first pitches of the game.

On top of that, finding the right seats, and finding people surrounding you to find THEIR right seats is an issue. I made sure we were in the right row and right seats after a bit of a debacle a couple of years ago. When I got back to what I thought was our seats, my mother had moved two seats over. A couple had come along and claimed that they were in the right row. Not wanting to pick a fight, I just stayed where I was the whole game.

(I looked up the seating chart last night, and sure enough, we were in the wrong row, just like two years ago when we were in the wrong section. My fault, no one else’s.)

It wasn’t the best of experiences, and I’ve had better there. However, when fans don’t go to a major league park, those who do go have to pay more, or so goes the jist. I just wish the jist was a little cheaper…

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Author: tbpauly

Former radio professional (1989-1996), currently residing in Pinellas Park, FL. Blogging since 2004, at least.

5 thoughts on “Tales From Section 212”

  1. I have read they want to replace The Trop with something newer. Is baseball a big enough draw there to warrant a new stadium? I wonder if Major League Baseball needs to keep Tampa as a market or would another city benefit from a team?

    1. A lot of equally good questions there, Tony. Baseball’s not a big draw here, in fact in 2015 we only averaged a little over 15,000 a game, which was 30th among the 30 teams.

      The problem is we also have minor league teams in Clearwater, Dunedin, Tampa, and Bradenton who combined are drawing another 8,500 per game to their games.

      They are talking about building a new stadium in downtown Tampa, which is about ten miles to the east of where the dome sits in St. Pete. Early thinking is it would be a retractable roof facility, so when it rains or its hot they can just keep the roof on.

      I think MLB wants to keep the Rays in Tampa, and doesn’t want a situation like the NFL has where teams can move around pretty much as they please. At the same time, I think MLB make a big mistake in the 90’s keeping all the minor league teams around and not moving them farther north and east of the area. I don’t think moving the stadium to Tampa will change things that much.

      1. Minor league ball is more family budget friendly. A retractable roof stadium would be ideal there…one that could also accommodate a football game every now and then too.

  2. Ah, therein lies the rub. A minor league team can afford to charge smaller amounts for parking, food, etc. because they are subsidized by major league teams. Being near “the head of the snake” brings up bigger problems.

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