- The Tampa Bay Rays professional baseball franchise have announced plans to build a $892-million, 30,842-seat baseball stadium in the historic Ybor City district of Tampa, Florida. The Rays currently play at Tropicana Field across Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg, Florida, where they have consistently low attendance, according to the Associated Press.
- The stadium, designed by sports venue expert Populous, will feature what the team called an intimate fan experience with upper-level seating set at a maximum distance of 204 feet from the field from the field, 17 unique seating areas, 21 viewing platforms and a 360-degree concourse that allows a full view of gameplay. The stadium will be enclosed by a translucent roof that will keep fans comfortable in the Florida heat and prevent rain delays. The roof costs are projected to represent 30% of the construction budget. The stadium will also feature exterior sliding glass walls behind center field and home plate, which can be opened in good weather.
- The Rays are eyeing a 2023 opening — based on a 36-month construction schedule, according to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn — but have no solid source of financing lined up yet. According to AP, the team made the announcement in part to draw corporate support.
Major league sports venues are all about the fan experience these days, and bringing the outdoors in, while still maintaining fan comfort is one of the ways teams are trying to keep seats full on game day.
Similar to the proposed Rays stadium, the Minnesota Vikings $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium, which Mortenson Construction completed in June 2016, features the first translucent roof in the NFL, the largest EFTE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) roof in North America and the five largest pivoting glass doors in the world, which are located at the venue's west entry. The roof design helps keep heat out and maintains a comfortable temperature inside, while the doors allow a constant stream of light into the venue and can be opened to allow fresh air inside.
A retractable roof is also featured in the design of Globe Life Field, the future home of the Texas Rangers. Under construction in sight of the team's current home at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, the new retractable roof will permit the team to give Rangers' fans what they have been wanting for some time now, and that is relief from the brutal Texas heat via air conditioning.