According to Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays will soon launch a website to garner ideas for their yet-to-be-built, yet-to-be-funded, and yet-to-find-a-location stadium.
The Rays are looking for ideas from the community and from local businesses on a way the stadium can be more user friendly year-round, from becoming a park to hosting events. The Rays goal is to make the stadium a community asset – a home not only for the Rays, but for everyone in Tampa Bay.
I’ve been writing about the Rays for a long time. My first post on the team was during a Spring Training game in 2007. Then, in 2008, the Rays won me over. A few years later, following Game 162 in 2011, I wrote my first post offering six ideas to the Rays front office (which, by the way, it looks like they are finally getting around to). In 2012, I wrote another post with 12 more suggestions. Then, two years after that, I started this website.
With that in mind, here are 17 ideas for Stadium X, wherever it may be and whoever is paying for it. Some are facility, some are tech ideas, and some are geared for the fans in the stadium. Some are realistic. Some are pie-in-the-sky. Some the Rays could use right now.
1) A brewery – since the Rays want to partner with local businesses, what better way than to partner with a local brewery and brew fresh beer in the stadium?
2) Tampa Bay Baseball Museum – I’ve written about how the Ted Williams Museum should not be associated with the Rays and Tampa Bay. But a museum that celebrates baseball in Tampa Bay is still a great idea. The Rays should partner with the Tampa Baseball Museum folks and exhibit the long history of baseball in the region, both Tampa and St. Pete.
3) A sports marketing, sports medicine, and sports analytics department – While the Lightning often employ USF Sports Marketing interns, the Rays could do one better and build classrooms to teach sports marketing, sports analytics, and even sports medicine. The Rays would be smart to work with the local universities or set up their own certificate program.
4) Raymond’s Fun Cave – I’ve often advocated turning the TBT Party Deck into a kids’ zone. I still think it would be a good idea in Stadium X to have a dedicated area for kids. Even better to associate it with the Rays’ mascot.
5) Rays Fan Cave – Like the old MLB Fan Cave idea, the Rays could have a fan live in the stadium for a home series. There could be a Rays room, visits from players, and televisions tuned in to every other game.
6) Spring Training facilities – Since Tampa Bay is a big spring training area, perhaps the Rays can incorporate Spring Training into their stadium. Either the Rays or another team could train in the Rays new stadium. This would allow the stadium to generate income for an extra month of the year.
7) A gondola connected to the roof – Assuming Stadium X has a closed roof, the Rays should install ski lift-like gondolas across the roof along the foul lines. This would give fans an amazing view of the game from the roof of the stadium.
8) A light tube around the interior of the stadium that lights up after a home run – Along the lines of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s tesla ball, the Rays should celebrate a home run or a win with “rays of light”. As the Rays probably shouldn’t project light outside the stadium for air safety sake, using light tubes inside the stadium would celebrate the Rays name.
9) A food truck bay – Food trucks are a big phenomenon. They are also mostly local businesses. During a game or even when there wasn’t a game, the Rays could use part of their stadium as a central locale for food trucks. Depending on where the ballpark is, people could visit the stadium for lunch or dinner.
10) A fanatic section – Like many college basketball arenas, the Rays could have a super fanatical section – a place where super fans in costumes, wigs, etc – could gather and be loud and creative. There could be noise makers from drums to vuvuzelas and other apparatuses.
11) A house for Stu Sternberg – Maybe if the new stadium has a place for the Rays owner, he might actually live in Tampa Bay. I couldn’t resist.
12) A free knothole wall – While Stadium X will be cutting edge and amazing in every 21st Century way possible, a knothole wall is a throwback to years long ago when kids would sneak a view of their heroes. Keeping that tradition alive is important for baseball. Somewhere where kids feel like they are getting the game for free.
13) Twitter and Instagram account – For years, I have said Tropicana Field needs a social media presence. Stadium X needs a social media presence. It needs to share tagged experiences of visitors. It needs to share images of the new stadium.
14) Touchscreens with different angles – Throughout the ballpark, fans should be able to interact with video screens. Allowing fans to watch games from different angles on the screens would make for a unique experience. This would be similar to the touchscreens at the Hard Rock Casino that allow visitors to scroll through the virtual exhibits. Or perhaps these video angles are available through an app that is only accessible while in the stadium.
15) Rays trivia tablets – Similar to Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, a trivia game that builds prizes as the contestant answers more questions correctly within a certain amount of time. Three questions correct might win a hot dog, five might win a free game ticket, 20 might win a 3-game package, etc. This could either be through a specific tablet available in the ballpark or perhaps through the Rays app.
16) A text message service that reminds attendees of the daily promotion when they arrive at the ballpark – With the Rays doing more daily promotions, perhaps they could remind fans of each promotions when they arrive in the ballpark. A fan would check in to Stadium X and immediately get a text that says “Don’t forget it’s $1 hotdog day” or whatever promotion is in effect.
17) Automatic download link of the Rays magazine – Instead of handing out the Rays magazine, a link could appear in a text when attendees check in to Stadium X. This would cut down paper and the Rays could then see how many fans access the link and for how long they spend reading the Rays magazine. Are the magazines worth the effort?
Here are 17 ideas. If I can create that many, the Rays shouldn’t have a problem creating a unique new stadium. If they can find the location and the money.
That might be the biggest challenge of all.