Tuesday, May 12, 2015

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By Nathan Trop, AngelsWin.com Columnist - 

I have been traveling a lot lately for work and I take advantage of any opportunity I get to visit a new baseball field.  So Thursday night I went to the Trop and got tickets to see the Rays play the Rangers. Two teams I care little about, other than a general dislike for the Rangers because they are in the AL West.  Unfortunately Evan Longoria was a late scratch because of flu like symptoms so the one player I really wanted to see wasn’t even playing.

The first thing you notice when you get there is just how generic looking the stadium is.  There is absolutely nothing special about it at all.  When you get inside it is even more drab.  The walls are white, the roof is white, there are no special features, no windows outside, nothing.  I was with some friends from work and we had just spent all day in meetings so we wanted to get a drink and eat before the game, we thought the stadium would have a restaurant, which it did, underground with no view of the field.  It had a nice beer menu and the smallest food menu I have seen outside of In N Out and the four of us were the only people in the entire place.  The food was decent and they had the hockey game on but that was it.  If you ever head out there, make sure to eat somewhere else before getting to the stadium unless you want ballpark food (which is perfectly OK).

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The second thing you notice is that nobody is there.  I was there the same night as game 4 of the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals which happened to feature the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Montreal Canadians.  Still you would imagine that people would show up, but no, the announced attendance was 8,701, one of the lowest in the history of the Rays and most of them were Rangers fans.  When the Rays scored a run it so eerily quiet, the cheers were muted and brief. Ernesto Frieri pitched a scoreless inning (not before walking a batter with two outs) proving miracles do happen.

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The third thing you notice is just how bizarre the entertainment at the stadium is.  The Rays appear to have two mascots, Raymond who is a, I dunno I guess a furry stingray or something; and DJ Kitty, a weird, ghetto, Flava Flav cat.  DJ Kitty spent most of the night posing for pictures with children, half dressed women and sauntering around looking lost or confused in our section behind the Rangers dugout.  Raymond must have been in another part of the stadium because we never saw him.  Between innings they would play videos of the DJ Kitty on the 1s and 2s playing house music.  This is normally where you have the fan cam of everyone dancing to the music, acting like fools but mostly nobody could be bothered.  In the middle of the 9th with the score 5-4 Rangers, in order to rally the Rays fans, the Nature Boy Ric Flair comes up on the Jumbotron; looking like a typical Florida retiree and says he is the biggest Rays fan of them all and everyone should get pumped up and yell “Woo!.”  This is the point when the Trop went from a baseball stadium to an insane asylum.  People were just randomly chanting “Woo!” in a high pitched tone.  Even better was all of the Rangers fans were using it to mock the Rays players every time they made an out or swung and missed.  It is by far the most bizarre thing I have ever experienced at a sporting event.

Despite the terrible atmosphere, I did have a good time watching baseball with friends, it doesn’t get much better than that. I do hope the Rays get a new stadium and come up with a better way of engaging the fans because they deserve much better, it is by far the worst baseball stadium I have ever been to.

Take a trip to The Trop through baseball’s No. 1 travel resource Hipmunk.com. Thousands of flights to Tampa can be gathered with a few clicks, including Tampa hotels starting from $54 that puts anyone within miles of the ballpark.
Love to hear what you think!

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