The Tampa Bay Rays, who ranked subsequent to final within the majors in attendance final season, are eliminating all seating within the higher deck for 2019 in an effort to create a extra “intimate” expertise for followers at Tropicana Subject.

The Rays on Friday mentioned they’d add a premium seating part within the decrease degree however would not seat followers within the higher deck, which might reduce capacity on the stadium by greater than 5,000 seats to roughly 25,000 to 26,000.

  • Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Tommy Pham issued a stinging evaluation Thursday of his staff’s attendance woes, telling SiriusXM that “one thing has to occur” to enhance the fan base.

  • From free brokers to “the opener,” this 12 months left many issues open for the brand new one to take from right here.

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That will be about 10,000 seats smaller than capacity at every other stadium within the main leagues.

“These renovations mark our continued dedication to offering a first-rate fan expertise at Tropicana Subject,” Rays president Matt Silverman mentioned in an announcement. “Collectively, in live performance with the discount in seating capacity, these investments will assist create a extra intimate, entertaining and interesting expertise for our followers.”

The Rays averaged 14,258 followers final season, rating forward of solely the Miami Marlins (10,013). It was a 7.9 % decline for the Rays, who’ve ranked final in attendance in all however two seasons since 2012.

Tommy Pham, who was traded to the Rays from the St. Louis Cardinals in July, was vital of the fan base in Tampa Bay.

“It sucks going from taking part in in entrance of a fantastic fan base to a staff with actually no fan base in any respect,” Pham mentioned on SiriusXM in December. “… That is one thing that I miss, as a result of even right here within the Dominican they’ve a robust fan base for the staff I am taking part in for. Their followers are very supportive. They’re loud. And the Rays? They only haven’t got that.”

Final season, the Tampa Bays Rays ranked 29th within the majors in common attendance — simply the second time they hadn’t ranked final since 2012. Brian Blanco/Getty Pictures

In December, Rays proprietor Stuart Sternberg mentioned he would reopen the seek for a brand new ballpark web site after plans for a stadium in Tampa’s Ybor Metropolis space could not be finalized by final month’s deadline.

Sternberg mentioned any new ballpark cannot open till at the least 2024 and that the staff should begin serious about the place it is going to play when its lease at St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Subject ends after the 2027 season.

“We’ll proceed to look in Tampa Bay, and we’ll put our efforts to that,” Sternberg mentioned on the winter conferences. “A method or one other, we want to determine the place the staff goes to be in 2028, if not sooner. Ideally sooner. However completely by 2028.”

Main League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has mentioned the game is not going to contemplate enlargement till the Rays and Oakland Athletics get new ballparks. The A’s introduced plans on Nov. 28 for a brand new stadium close to downtown and are working to acquire approvals.

Tampa Bay has performed at what’s now known as Tropicana Subject since its first season in 1998.

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