ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With a deal for a new stadium in Ybor City seemingly dead, the Tampa Bay Rays are moving forward with renovations to Tropicana Field. 

  • Rays reconfiguring Tropicana Field to 25,000 to 26,000 seats
  • Upper deck to be removed; new seating area Left Field Ledge to be created
  • Team officials say changes will create new, intimate experience for fans
  • Rays Owner: "Not Close" To Plan For Ybor

The team announced Friday plans for a series of capital improvements and renovations for its stadium, featuring the reconfiguration of the ballpark’s seating capacity. 

The ballpark will be reconfigured to hold an estimated 25,000 to 26,000 fans. The stadium's previous capacity has been listed as high as 42,735 but more recently at 31,000 with the upper deck covered and closed off. 

The Rays have a long history of struggling attendance. Last year, with a surprising squad that won 90 games, the Rays were 29th of 30 teams in attendance, averaging 14,258 fans. The Miami Marlins were last at 10,000. Last year was the first season since 2014 that the team wasn't last in attendance.

The restructuring of the seating will come mainly through the elimination of the upper-deck 300 level. 

Rays officials say the new arrangement will create a more intimate setting for fans attending games. 

The renovations are headlined by the creation of the Left Field Ledge—a new area in the lower seating bowl featuring premium seating for small groups and social spaces with views of the playing field—the installation of LED lights throughout the stadium

and concourses, and the closure of the upper deck level.

"These renovations mark our continued commitment to providing a first-rate fan experience at Tropicana Field," said Rays President Matt Silverman. "Together, in concert with the reduction in seating capacity, these investments will help create

a more intimate, entertaining and appealing experience for our fans."

According to team officials, the changes will improve fan amenities by: 

  • Offering more social gathering spaces with the creation of a new common area, the Left Field Ledge (formerly the tarped seats above the left field crosswalk) to include a full-service bar, ledge tables, and seated drink rails.

  • Redesigning and enhancing two primary fan entrances (Gates 4 and 5) to improve the flow of fans through increased access points and wayfinding features. 

  • Exchanging the current turf for a new Shaw Sports Turf product, designed to withstand the myriad events held at Tropicana Field throughout the calendar year. 

  • Adding access from the Budweiser Porch and Ballpark & Rec areas to the Outfielder bar behind center field as well as creating an external entrance to the food and beverage space. 

  • Redoubling the organization’s commitment to sustainable energy practices with the replacement of the existing field lights with energy-efficient LED lights, improving overall on-field playability and entertainment lighting throughout the ballpark.

  • Elimination of the upper deck level which reconfigures the ballpark seating areas to include the first, mezzanine and second seating levels, as well as the new GTE Financial Party Deck, and concentrates fans closer to the field of play.

Rays officials said season ticket holders will have an opportunity to explore these enhancements to the ballpark at Fan Fest on February 9. Season ticket holders in the upper levels will have the option to relocate to a new location.