St. Petersburg, Florida
Tampa International Airport (TPA)
20 miles/25 minutes to Tropicana Field
WHERE TO STAY?
Hotels Near Tropicana Field (all are within 1-3 miles of the ballpark). Most will find it more convenient to have a rental car while visiting Tropicana Field.
Courtyard by Marriott Downtown St. Petersburg
Chaser Budget Traveler
Comfort Inn & Suites at Tropicana Field
America’s Best Inn St. Petersburg
Ballpark Chasers hidden gem: Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Point (about 10 miles from Tropicana Field but worth the drive)
WHERE TO PARK?
The Rays organization makes parking a snap, offering nine lots around Tropicana Field. Rays parking is $20 to $30 for the premium games, while select games drop to just $15. Parking Panda, the official parking partner of the Tampa Bay Rays, offers gameday parking reservations for Tropicana Field. Avoid driving around for the best parking facility - compare on your smartphone and reserve Rays parking today.
A more affordable option are the commercial and city owned lots surrounding Tropicana Field. For all home games, a free baseball shuttle picks up passengers on Second Street mid-block between Central Avenue and 1st Avenue South (under the Bank of America Tower's pedestrian bridge) and drops passengers off near Gate 4 at Tropicana Field. The baseball looper trolley operates 90 minutes before game time and until one hour after the game is over. A city-owned garage on 1st Avenue South, just east of 2nd Street South, is the designated shuttle parking facility and costs $5.
Ballpark Chasers Tip: the Rays are doing their part to encourage car-pooling by offering fans free parking (on Sunday games) when arriving at the game with four or more people in the same vehicle. For all other games, the first 100 cars with four or more people park for free up to an hour before game time.
WHERE TO EAT?
Rays fans love to grab food and drinks at Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill before every home game. Located directly across from Tropicana Field, Ferg’s boasts about their numerous awards from the local online community. Start with some scrumptious boneless chicken wings and follow it up with “The Devil Ray” burger.
Another great bar & grill option is found just three blocks from Tropicana Field. The Burg offers incredible sandwiches and burgers, hence the name, "Burg". Our favorite menu items include: loaded potato chips, Pulled Pork Sliders, Double Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger and the Chicken & Waffles.
Our final suggestion is a little further out but well worth the drive. Columbia Restaurant is Florida's oldest dining establishment and is still owned by the original founders family. Columbia Restaurant has been serving authentic Spanish/Cuban cuisine since 1905 and offers a location right next to the historic St. Petersburg Pier. Between the gorgeous views of Tampa Bay and incredible food at Columbia Restaurant, it makes for a great evening.
We have to hand it to the Rays as their food offerings have greatly improved over the last few seasons. We love the Buffalo Chicken Sliders, The Rigger Dog, and the Smokehouse Burger. A new ballpark addition is "The Porch in Center Field," an open deck overlooking center field in the former location of Everglades BBQ restaurant. It includes a 40-foot long bar featuring local made craft beers from Tampa as well as a good assortment of traditional ballpark and BBQ style food. The sit-down option within Tropicana Field is called The Brewhouse Pub. It opens two hours before game time and serves traditional bar food and drinks. Ask about their "fan versus food challenge" that they run every year.
New to Tropicana Field in 2016: Pipo’s Café—serving an award-winning menu of Cuban and Latin dishes for more than 30 years in Tampa Bay, Pipo’s is serving their delicious Cuban sandwiches, empanadas, and fried plantains from locations in Centerfield Street and the first base concourse.
Ybor Dog—features a signature Kayem all-beef jumbo hot dog with picadillo sauce, as well as perennial favorites chili-cheese dogs topped with bacon, or BBQ dogs with pulled barbecue pork.
The “Triple B” Sandwich - hot roast beef, fried bologna, white American cheese, grilled onions, sliced tomato, apple jalapeno coleslaw and 1,000 island dressing on a Kaiser roll.
WHERE TO BUY TICKETS?
Despite the Rays being highly competitive, Tropicana Field came in dead last for MLB attendance last season. Even the 2008 World Series didn't fill up the ballpark! Ballpark Chasers recommends pre-purchasing your tickets through TicketMonster.com.
Scalping is illegal on stadium property; however, reselling tickets at or below face value can take place on the west side of the stadium, between Gates 5 and 6. Look for plenty of action in this area and great bargains starting about 2.5 hours before every home game.
WHERE TO SIT?
Did you know that fans seated in the Hancock Bank Club at Tropicana Field are treated to all-inclusive buffet, wine beer and soda? Learn more about these seats and see the view from your seats using this guide.
WHEN TO GO?
It’s Florida! Enjoy the sun and no need to worry about rain-outs as Tropicana Field is one of the few remaining domes left in Major League Baseball. Ballpark Chasers favorite month to travel to Tropicana Field is May due to the warm, but comfortable temperatures and less rainfall than the rest of the summer brings.
WHAT ELSE TO SEE?
The beautiful Florida sun provides numerous outdoor activities throughout the summer. Ballpark Chasers favorite is Busch Gardens, just 35 minutes from Tropicana Field. Busch Gardens is much more than just an amusement park, offering everything from an animal park, live shows, safaris, a bird garden, a water park and a children’s play area. But who are we kidding; you come to Busch Gardens for their roller coasters! Sheikra is America’s first “dive coaster” – 200 feet up followed by 90 degrees straight down. Gwazi is the area’s largest and fastest double wooden coaster that will make you question how a bunch of wood (1.25 million board feet to be exact) can keep the coaster up. Check out the Montu for a 60 mph inverted roller coaster that reaches G-force of 3.85. To put that in perspective, Space Shuttle astronauts experience a similar force upon lift-off. The best of all has to be Kumba. The 135 ft. drop will make your stomach rise up to your throat!
Tampa’s best kept secret is the Big Cat Rescue. This nonprofit organization rescues exotic cats from being abused and/or abandoned and provides them with a safe home. Day tours are offered Monday through Saturday (children under the age of 10 can only take the Saturday tour) and include seeing over 140 animals from over 15 different species of wild cat. This is truly one of the few opportunities to see up close cougars, tigers, bobcats, lions, leopards and lynx as many of them are now endangered or even extent in the wild. Keep in mind that the Big Cat Rescue is not a zoo and tours are the only way to see the cats. Cameras are allowed but no tripods. Umbrellas are forbidden. Make sure to wear an old but comfortable pair of walking shoes.
While at the game, don't forget to check out the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame and the 10,000 gallon tank filled with live Rays after your meal. The Ted Williams Museum is located just past the rotunda on the right-hand side and admission is free to all fans attending Rays home games. The Museum opens two hour prior to the first pitch and stays open through the 6th inning.
Another museum not to miss is the Tampa Baseball Museum. Al Lopez's childhood home welcomes fans the chance to explore and celebrate Tampa’s 125 years of baseball heritage. Who is Al Lopez you ask? He is not only Tampa’s first Major League player but also the first Tampa native to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. In this home, more than 80 professional players and baseball greats from Tampa are honored, along with the people and places who shaped them.
BALLPARK CHASERS VACATION?
Tropicana Field is part of the "Sunshine Pair" Ballpark Chasers Trip, which includes seeing Marlins Park in Miami. The drive between ballparks is roughly 260 miles, or about four hours. Ballpark Chasers recommends searching for airline tickets to either Tampa International Airport or Miami International Airport to find the cheapest ticket from your home city.
In order to break up the four hour drive, check out a game at one or more of the Florida State League ballparks. Our favorite is Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida. The newly renovated stadium is home to the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the High-A Affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Further south is Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida. The Twins Advanced Single A Affiliate, the Fort Myers Miracle, play here and offer a great beer garden along with fabulous turkey legs!
If you prefer to hang around the Tampa area, check out a Tampa Tarpons game at famous Steinbrenner Field. Steinbrenner built the ballpark to hold 11, 000 fans, over 31 acres. The ballpark has identical dimensions to the original Yankee Stadium and is unlike most Minor League parks around the country. This ballpark is a must see for any Yankees fan or for any fan of baseball. Make sure to check out the retired Yankees monuments outside of the park.
Last updated by Ballpark Chasers.