This season you can get Pipo's at the ballpark and a craft beer from Green Bench brewed especially for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays on Tuesday unveiled a renovated concourse at Tropicana Field with new menu items from Tampa Bay businesses.
At Sunday's sold-out home opener, fans will find a new look to the first and third base food courts, plus some recognizable names. Rays' third baseman Evan Longoria's Ducky's restaurant is making its debut. Pipo's Cafe, the longtime local staple serving Cuban sandwiches, empanadas and fried plantains, will be in Centerfield Street and the first base concourse.
Ducky's Deck is set up in centerfield as well, and there's a Ducky's portable concession stand on the Budweiser Porch. The menu includes crab cakes, turkey wraps and a Ducky's salad with chicken or steak.
Last season the team added Taco Bus and Ricky P's Orleans Bistro to the food court and brought in local breweries including Big Storm Brewing, Cigar City, Green Bench, Sea Dog and 3 Daughters.
John Cirelli, the general manager of Centerplate, the hospitality partner of the Tampa Bay Rays, said the addition of more local favorites and some new seafood and Cuban specialties, "are all part of a focus on providing a local and authentic experience."
That's what prompted the Rays to create their own craft beer, called 2-Seam Blonde Ale, in partnership with Green Bench Brewing, a craft brewery located a few blocks from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The beer, to be sold exclusively at Tropicana Field, will be available at nearly 30 locations in the stadium.
"We wanted to celebrate Tampa Bay's award winning craft beer industry," Bill Walsh, Rays vice president of strategy and development said in a statement. "We partnered with Green Bench, located just steps from Tropicana Field, to create a light, crisp and fresh blonde ale that anyone can enjoy."
Other new offerings this season:
• Cuban fare: In addition to Cuban-sandwiches, there will be Cuban-inspired hot dogs, and a fried grouper sandwich with cilantro sauce, lettuce and tomato on Cuban bread.
• Ybor Dog: The ballpark's Kayem beef hot dog will be topped with picadillo sauce. And perennial favorites such as the chili-cheese dogs topped with bacon, or BBQ dogs with pulled barbecue pork, are returning.
• Triple B Sandwich: The Burger Up concession has created a "Triple B" sandwich with hot roast beef, fried bologna, white American cheese, grilled onions, sliced tomato, apple jalapeno coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing on a Kaiser roll.
• Everglades Brewhouse in Centerfield Street has some new menu items including Buffalo chicken sliders and a deep-fried Ripper Dog served with house-made kettle chips.
• Fan vs. Food Challenge: Serious eaters can try this in Everglades Brewhouse. The challenge is to finish one pound each of sliced brisket, pulled pork, BBQ chicken wings, macaroni and cheese and French fries with four slices of Texas toast for two free tickets to a game, a T-shirt and bragging rights.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @SharonKWn.