Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Your own field of dreams: Marry on the pitcher's mound

Saying "I do" on the pitcher's mound or trekking across a football field to the 50-yard line in a tulle gown may be the last thing a bride has in mind for her fairy tale wedding.

But say a couple meets at a Rays game or gets engaged during halftime at a Bucs game. Maybe they would think about tying the knot right there in one of Tampa Bay's largest sports stadiums.

At Tropicana Field, there have only been 10 weddings in the past 15 years, said Caren Dana, director of event booking with the Tampa Bay Rays. Only 20 people in nearly a decade have pledged their love underneath the Big Top, which means it probably takes a special kind of baseball fan to go that far.

The ceremony is held on the pitcher's mound. The bride walks out of the home plate tunnel and onto a runner (to prevent brown clay from staining a white dress), which leads across the field to the mound. This luxury would cost somewhere between $7,500 and $10,000.

"The air is what really drives the price," Dana said. "You have to pump air into the dome or else it'll be hot and sticky for your guests."

The reception is what the Trop does best. Centerplate, a catering company, prepares all the food. Chef Marc Spooner can do anything from hot dogs to sophisticated seafood and cuts of meat.

Reception sites include the field, the clubby Hancock Bank Club or the Batter's Eye Restaurant, which overlooks the outfield.

Bobby Bonneau was a bartender at the Trop when she met her husband, Chris, who was a groundskeeper. Since they met at the stadium, they decided to have their reception in the Hancock Bank Club.

"The room turned out great and the food was wonderful," Bobby, 35, said. "Our guests told us it was the best food they had at a wedding."

They had pasta stations, carving stations and appetizers like cheese-stuffed cherry tomatoes and one-bite spaghetti and meatballs.

If baseball doesn't dazzle, consider the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where a pair of hockey nuts can get married in a place where they spend the best time together.

Venue options are the Firestick Grill, a high-end dining space; the Bud Light Party Deck, where guests get a panoramic view of the city; and the showy VIP club.

"Usually it's diehard Lightning fans that want to have their big day here," said Jessica Eckley, manager of event marketing at the Times Forum. "Other times, couples do it because they want to do something different instead of the typical hotel or convention center space."

If your guy has Bucs fever, be the cool wife and consider Raymond James Stadium, where football freaks can get married on a pirate ship. Or on the field. Or on the club level. At Ray Jay, the possibilities are endless; prices vary depending on venue choice and number of guests.

Fair warning: No weddings can take place on game days at any of these venues. Kind of a buzzkill, but at least your wedding will definitely be the main event.

Sabrina Rocco can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8862.

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