Nats Fans on the Road: Tropicana Field

Tropicana Field is home to the Rays Touch Tank where fans can get a close look at rays. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Tropicana Field is home to the Rays Touch Tank where fans can actually touch  rays. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Nats Gallery Blog will let you “travel” with the Washington Nationals for the remainder of the season.  As a part of out “Nats Fans on the Road” series, we will interview Nationals fans who cheer on the Nationals when they sport their road uniforms.  We hope their stories will help you get a better understanding of how to best enjoy a future road trip to a Nationals away game.

The latest edition of “Nats Fans on the Road” takes us to St. Petersburg, Florida where the Nationals split a two game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.  We caught up with two fans this week—Scott and Courtney—who went to both games.

Scott

Scott got to enjoy his second and third game at Tropicana Field thanks to a well-timed road trip to Disney World to celebrate his daughter’s college graduation.  He had mixed feelings, as many fans do, about the league’s only domed stadium without a retractable roof.  “The stadium is odd,” he said, “It has no personality and AstroTurf should be banned.”  Scott did not have any objection to one of the stadium’s greatest benefits—its HVAC system—which spares fans from intense heat and humidity.

Fans have the opportunity to get very close to the players because the bullpens are positioned along the left and right field foul lines.  This gives fans great opportunities to catch balls (bring your glove) and strike up conversations with players.  Fans should consider bringing cameras and pens for autographs because you might find yourself in the same situation Scott was in on Monday night—chatting with Blake Treinen.

Courtney

The first game of the series coincided with game six of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning.  Courtney said that it seemed like only somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 fans actually made it to the ballpark even though the official attendance announced was 10,216 because fans may have chosen to watch the hockey game.  The paucity of Rays fans made the visiting Nationals fans seem more pronounced.  “When we were walking through the concourse, we actually spotted more Nats fans than Rays fans,” she said.  “It was a fun atmosphere.”

Visiting fans should definitely explore Tropicana Field on nights like Monday when the Nationals didn’t manage to score their first run until the ninth inning.  Fans can stop by the Rays Touch Tank in center field to pet rays for free.  A $5 donation gets fans the opportunity to feed the rays.  Courtney had a fun time at the tank, but cautioned other fans to be prepared for the crowds that flock the 10 minute petting sessions.

Ballpark food also varies in every city and it can have a significant impact on a fan’s experience.  Fans at Tropicana Field can enjoy meals from Tampa Bay companies like Outback Steakhouse and Papa John’s Pizza among other dining options.  Courtney opted for meals from Outback Steakhouse on both nights and was thrilled to enjoy the food from the comfort of her seat.

Courtney had a great time at Tropicana Field and said she would “definitely go back.”

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