Originally named the Florida Suncoast Dome and then the ThunderDome, Tropicana Field's 1.1 million square feet include unique design features and fan amenities found nowhere else in the Major Leagues.
Tropicana Field is the world's only professional sports facility that features live cownose rays. The Rays Tank opened in 2006, and is located just behind the right center field wall. Through a unique partnership with the Florida Aquarium, there are over 30 rays that fans can touch and feed throughout the game. The 10,000 gallon tank is one of the ten-largest in the United States.
Tropicana Field is the only Major League park to feature an artificial surface and all-dirt base paths. AstroTurf was installed prior to the 2011 season. All of the other parks that currently feature an artificial surface have only dirt cutouts around the bases and at the pitcher's mound. Only four other artificial turf ballparks have ever featured all-dirt base paths: Houston's Astrodome (1966-1971); San Francisco's Candlestick Park in 1971; Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium in the early '70s; and, most recently, St. Louis' Busch Stadium (1970-1976). Chicago's Comiskey Park had all-dirt base paths with an artificial turf infield and grass outfield in the early 1970s.
In 2007, the Rays added four new video boards to Tropicana Field. The main video board in right field is 35 feet high and 64 feet wide, making it more than four times larger than the previous board. This ProStar video board from Daktronics will provide video content, highlight pitching matchups, and show pitch speeds, pitch counts, and other detailed statistical information. There is also two 10 by 50-foot strip boards below the main board which will have batter and pitcher statistics. In addition, the Rays have unveiled a new video board above the Everglades BBQ Smokehouse in center field. This board has an in-game box score and will provide statistical information in a baseball card style format. The Rays will also continue to use a matrix board in left field which has out-of-town scores and crowd-pumping images.
Tropicana Field is home to a number of interactive areas for kids of all ages. In the Left Field Street area, fans can participate in a baseball-themed game show, take their picture on a Topps baseball card, and personalize their own jersey. Left Field Street also features the Grand Slam Alley with Midway-style games. Fans can also enjoy the latest modern baseball video games in the 2k Sports Lounge.
In 2007, Right Field Street was renovated to include numerous activities for younger baseball fans. Kids can experience the magic of baseball in the Rays Baseball Carnival, a real working carnival that includes Tip-a-Jug, Ring Toss, and more. In addition, fans can take their swings against computer images of real Major League pitchers in a batting cage or test their arms in the speed pitch, both found in the Rookie Challenge. Right Field Street also features popular kids-themed areas such as Raymond’s Art Studio and Raymond’s Living Room.
Center Field Street features the Cuesta-Rey Bar, as well as the Everglades BBQ Smokehouse, located in center field. The specially tinted windows of the restaurant make up a 130-foot-wide hitting background, yet still allow patrons of the restaurant to watch the game. Also found on Center Field Street is the Brewhouse, The Captain Morgan Deck, the Rays Team Store, and the MLB Alumni Office.
The Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall-of-Fame moved to Tropicana Field in 2006 and is also located in Center Field Street. Fans can view an array of different artifacts and pictures of the "Greatest hitter that ever lived." These memorable displays range from Ted Williams' days in the military through his professional playing career. This museum is dedicated to some of the greatest players to ever "lace 'em up," including Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Sadaharu Oh.
The Papa John's Bullpen Box is located directly behind the Rays' bullpen in the right field corner and offers picnic-style seating.
Ebbets Field was an influence for Tropicana Field. The ballpark's grand, eight-story-high rotunda entrance is designed from the very blueprints used for the rotunda at Ebbets Field, built in 1913.
Tropicana Field features the world's second-largest cable-supported domed roof (Georgia Dome is the largest). It's made of six acres of translucent, Teflon-coated fiberglass and it virtually supports itself with 180 miles of cables connected by struts. Opposing forces of tension and compression keep the roof in an arc. Tropicana Field's roof is slanted at a 6.5-degree angle, dropping from 225 feet above second base to 85 feet at the center field wall. The slanted roof reduced the overall construction costs and decreased the volume of air under the dome by 16.8 million cubic feet. Accordingly, that reduced the amount of air that requires climate control treatment. It is built to withstand wind of up to 115 miles per hour. The roof of the dome is lit orange after the Rays win at home, symbolic of the ballpark's title sponsor, Tropicana Dole Beverages.
Fans can enter the rotunda by following a 900-foot, tropical-theme ceramic mosaic walkway. The walk is the largest outdoor ceramic mural in Florida and one of the five largest in the United States. Made with 1,849,091 brightly colored 1x1 inch tiles, it depicts the sun, sea and beach.
There are four catwalks located above the playing surface at Tropicana Field. They are labeled the "A", "B", "C" and "D" rings with the lowest ring the "D" ring. The "D" ring ranges from 59 feet above the playing surface in CF to 121 feet behind home plate. The "C" ring ranges from 99 feet in CF to 146 behind home plate. The "B" ring ranges from 142 feet in CF to 173 feet behind home plate. And, the "A" ring ranges from 181 feet in CF to 194 feet behind home plate. If a ball strikes the A or the B ring in fair territory, the ball is in play. If a ball strikes the C or the D ring in fair territory it is a home run.