November 29, 2007
The newly-renamed Tampa Bay Rays* made public their plans for a new stadium on the St. Petersburg waterfront, where Al Lang Field is presently located. The 34,000 seat, retractable-roof ballpark would have "the smallest upper deck in baseball." As reported by MLB.com,
The ballpark design also includes a unique retractable roof which will shield the playing field and fans from the elements yet still maintain an intimate environment. The roof will be comprised of a light weatherproof fabric that will be pulled along cables that are suspended between arches on one end and a central mast structure on the other. It will take approximately 8 minutes to open or close the roof, and, even when the roof is deployed, the feel of an open-air ballpark will be maintained. The Rays have worked closely with a team of architects and engineers, led by HOK Sport, on the design. The total cost for the ballpark is estimated to be $450 million.
Hat tip to Adam Shane. If the City Council approves, a referendum on public funding will be placed on the November 2008 ballot. This is an encouraging development, but the fact that anyone in the Tampa Bay area might be willing to fork over more taxpayer money so soon after the Sundome / Tropicana Field fiasco is rather remarkable. Here's an idea: Instead of spending an extra $100 million for a retractable roof, why don't they just play their rainy-day games in Tropicana Field for the next ten years or so? After that, they can add their fancy-shmancy retractable roof. Bruce Orser informs me that the proposed site was once the location of Waterfront Park, where the Braves as well as the Yankees used to hold spring training.
* ("You can call me 'Ray,' you can call me 'Bill,' you can call me 'Fred,' ..." )
The Dodgers plan to mark the 50th anniversary of their move to Los Angeles by holding an exhibition game on March 29 with the Red Sox in Memorial Coliseum, as part of a charity drive. Part of the nostalgia is that former Milwaukee Brave Joe Torre, who is now managing the Dodgers, once played baseball games there. "It's estimated that the Dodgers will spend around $250,000 to build temporary dugouts for the game as well as erect a longer and larger metal curtain in left field..." See MLB.com. A quarter million bucks for an exhibition game? They must have money to burn! Given that the size of the playing field was significantly reduced when they added extra rows of seats in 1993, I estimate that the distance to left field would be less than 200 feet. What a joke!
Thanks to Jeff Stark for sending some great photos of Turner Field. I didn't realize they had added a new video scoreboard in center field.