Rays unveil new spring training facility
The Tampa Bay Rays showed off their impressive new spring training facility during a media tour on Thursday in Port Charlotte.
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Team officials raved about many of the fan-friendly features, such as the outfield boardwalk that allows 360-degree circulation and includes a tiki bar and BBQ area, and bragged that all reserved seats (about 5,100) are sold out for the 16 exhibition games (though $9 berm seating, and a limited number of season ticket packages remain available, though they have already sold more than 3,000. They also plan to sell standing room only tickets). There is also a neat kids play area.
"The main thing we wanted to do was create a great experience for the fans,'' said Rays senior VP Michael Kalt, pictured.
Among the amenities for players is a 4,OOO square foot weight room, 5 1/2 fields in addition to the stadium, a plush carpeted lockerroom with room for 72, and a large players' lounge/dining area. There are separate lockerrooms for up to 160 minor-league players. The lockerrooms are on the first floor of a new 43,000 square foot building, the team offices are on the second floor.
One of the biggest benefits of the new facility, according to manager Joe Maddon, is having the major- and minor-league players together at one site for the first time in franchise history.
The Rays will move into their complex in early February, with the first official workout on Feb. 15.
The facility, which underwent a $27-million renovation and expansion, will be used during the summer by the Rays' new Class A affiliate, the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
-- MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
(Times photos -- James Borchuck. Click to enlarge.)