Take me IN to the ball game

Testing the climate control at the Trop

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click to enlarge TEMPERATURE RISING?: Does hot air rise to the top of the Trop? - Wayne Garcia
Wayne Garcia
TEMPERATURE RISING?: Does hot air rise to the top of the Trop?

There's a breeze blowing in center, just the hint of one. The best thing about the breeze is that it's man-made. The A.C. in Tropicana Field must've kicked on or something, but the air is moving, no shit.

You can hardly beat a domed stadium for exploring the great indoors. It's big. There are lots of nooks and crannies. It's air-conditioned. We've come on this Easter Sunday afternoon, Wayne and I, to experience the climate-controlled splendor that is the Trop, and catch a few innings in the process. Today, the Devil Rays game against the Kansas City Royals would be better witnessed outdoors, but everyone knows that in just a few weeks the dome will be the only sane place in town to see live baseball, regardless of whether you think the interior of the stadium has less charm than the throwback parks up north.

We've heard that the dome is kept at a comfy 72 degrees top to bottom. How true is that, we wondered. Pretty close, as it turns out. Armed with a digital thermometer, we start out in the cushy splendor of the Kane's Club, a section of seats just behind home plate that cost more than a hundred beans a pop. For this premium price, you get an open bar, a buffet and a luxurious leather chair along with a terrific sightline. Temperature reading: 73.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Nice.

The ushers at the Trop are no longer Seat Nazis; they smile and let you go where you want to go if you have the right pass. Still, we shouldn't overstay our welcome in the Kane's Club. Never know when one of these geezers will go all Naimoli on you.

That's when we walk out to dead center field. (This is, by the way, before the game.) Even with the artificial breeze, the temp has risen a bit to 73.9. After a few minutes, an on-field security guy comes over. "We don't usually have press people this far out in the outfield," he says, as pleasant as can be. "Are you out here for some reason?" Somewhat taken aback by his politeness, we tell him we're just heading in.

Where next? Ah, the nosebleeds. OK, so hot air rises, right? Yet when I reach an uppermost seat, my thermometer reads lower, an even 73 degrees. Theory: There aren't enough people in the Trop to make enough hot air to raise the temperature in the upper deck. (It's Easter Sunday, after all.)

We move to the lower bowl behind home plate, a more crowded area. Temp: 74.1. And here's where we make our most valuable empirical finding: If a Devil Ray hits a home run in the Trop, the temperature will increase. When Johnny Gomes crushes a ball into the centerfield seats during the first inning, the temp climbs to an alarming 75 degrees.

In the end, the only place in Tropicana Field where it actually registers 72 degrees for us is in the press box (where it plummets to 71.4), but that might be because the thermometer's sensor is too close to my free cup of Mountain Dew.

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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