The Tampa Bay Rays were one of two expansion teams in 1998, joining the Florida Marlins as the professional sports representatives from the Sunshine State. Originally called the Devil Rays before shortening the name before the 2008 season, the Rays have called Tropicana Field home since their inaugural season. The Trop was opened in 1990 in St. Petersburg, Florida, and was built to lure a Major League team to the Tampa Bay area. For years it was used as a multi-purpose facility that once held the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning and minor league baseball games. Finally, in 1998, the city got its wish and brought professional baseball to the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Tropicana Field is large by MLB standards, with 46,000 seats and one of the largest cable-supported roofs in the world. At 225 feet high, the facility's roof is a sight to behold, but players still find a way to hit foul balls off the surface of the ceiling. Outside on the east side of the ballpark, fans are greeted by a massive rotunda that is 80 feet wide and nearly five stories tall. From this point in the venue, fans can make their way to their seats or enjoy one of the many attractions and amenities that are all over Tropicana Field.
Along with ballpark favorites like hot dogs, peanuts and nachos, Tropicana Field also offers two full-service restaurants serving barbecue, bar food and cocktails, as well as various food courts to appeal to any palette. In 2007, the Rays added Right Field Street, a kid-friendly zone filled with interactive games and exhibits explaining great moments in baseball history. Children can also try their luck in the batting cages with computerized simulations of Major League Pitchers to see what it's really like to be in the batter's box.
Over the last few years, Tropicana Field has become one of the most popular venues in baseball, as the Rays surged to an unlikely World Series bid in 2008 and another division championship in 2010. Using a payroll dwarfed by teams in their own division, the Rays have built one of the most dangerous rosters in baseball and will be a consistent contender in the AL pennant race for the foreseeable future.