Seating capacity at Tropicana Field will be reduced to about 25,000 to 26,000 under a renovation plan aimed at improving fans' experience.
The team on Friday announced plans to create a more "intimate" atmosphere, including the creation of the Left Field Ledge in the lower level featuring premium seating for small groups, and the elimination of the upper-deck 300 level.
The capacity at the Trop previously was 31,042.
"These renovations mark our continued commitment to providing a first-rate fan experience at Tropicana Field," Rays President Matt Silverman said in a news release. "Together, in concert with the reduction in seating capacity, these investments will help create a more intimate, entertaining and appealing experience for our fans."
The announcement comes a month after the team announced it was abandoning plans to build a stadium in Ybor City but remained committed to remaining in the Tampa Bay area.
In 2018, the Rays ranked 29th out of 30 teams with an average daily attendance of 14,258. Only the Miami Marlins, at 10,013, ranked lower.
Among the planned changes for the Trop this season:
- More social gathering spaces including the Left Field Ledge, a common area that will replace the tarped seats above the left-field crosswalk. It will include a full-service bar, tables, and seated drink rails.
- Elimination of the upper deck, meaning seating will be contained to the first level, mezzanine, and second level and will bring fans closer to the action.
- Improved flow at Gates 4 and 5, the primary fan entrances.
- Added access from the Budweiser Porch and Ballpark & Rec areas to the Outfielder bar in center field, and addition of an external entrance to the food and drink area.
- Installation of a new Shaw Sports Turf, and LED lights in the stadium and concourses.
Season-ticket holders will be able to preview the changes during Rays Fan Fest on Feb. 9. Those who have already purchased upper-level season tickets will be able to relocate to a different location, according to the release.
These renovations come on top of $15 million in changes made to the stadium in the last two years, according to the release.