Tropicana Field is a domed stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida. The stadium has been the home turf of the Tampa Bay Rays ever since their inaugural season in 1998. One of the features that make this stadium stand out is the fact that it remains the last Major League Baseball venue not to have a non-retractable dome structure. This means that The Tropicana Field could be considered an indoor venue all year round. In addition to that, the stadium has been noted for being the smallest stadium in Major League Baseball in terms of its seating capacity.
The history of this venue dates back to the 70s when the city of St. Petersburg was looking for ways to increase its local sporting scene. Nearby, Tampa Bay was particularly strong in that regard since the city was home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as the Tampa Bay Rowdies. By contrast, there was very little happening in the St. Petersburg major sports scene, if anything at all. The city had the vision to attract a Major League Baseball team. In order to achieve that, they started planning a new multi-purpose stadium facility. Development and early drafts started in the 80s, with a previously proposed design botched in favor of what was going to become the Tropicana. Local minorities opposed the construction of a stadium in the area, and some are still vocal about their dissent. The city official wanted a fixed permanent dome as a measure to contract the extreme heat and humidity, not to mention the frequent tropical thunderstorms that are known to affect the area quite frequently. In addition to that, the Tropicana Field actually implemented artificial turf as a way to prevent the difficulties, costs, and challenges associated with maintaining a field of natural grass in such a difficult environment.
The Tropicana construction team first broke ground in 1986, and eventually, the whole project was completed in 1990. That year, it hosted its first major event: The Davis Cup Finals. To this day, the venue is often known as “The Trop,” particularly among locals, who started calling it like that as an affectionate nickname.
Although baseball is definitely the primary sport for the Tropicana Field, this is a multi-purpose facility. It has hosted numerous events and games in other sports, ranging from Basketball to Football, and even car races in the SCCA circuit and the spectacular World of Outlaw Sprint Cars circuit, which had its golden age in the 90s. As of 2006, the Tropicana Field welcomed the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, which relocated to the stadium after the original facility experienced bankruptcy. The museum features authentic memorabilia and artifacts from some of the most iconic baseball players, especially Ted Williams himself, whose trust donated several mementos and objects from his career.
The venue has hosted various other non-sporting events, including concerts by major recording acts such as Steely Dan, AC/DC, as well as Van Halen, Depeche Mode, The Beach Boys, and many others. Most notably, the first-ever concert at this facility was performed by Don Henley from The Eagles in 1990. The Tropicana Field hosted various professional WWE (Wrestling) games and events, including iconic franchises such as Raw, as well as SmackDown. WWE started a residency at the Tropicana to broadcast pay-per-view events as well. During the 2020 to 2021 seasons, the WWE actually built a set at the Tropicana, The WWE ThunderDome, which has been broadcasting shows and events behind closed doors as a measure against the COVID-19 pandemic.