Connect with us


Rays showcase 25th anniversary upgrades

Mark Parker



Tropicana Field has three new ultra-high definition screens that are 30% larger than the previous display. Photos by Mark Parker.

While much of the offseason discussion surrounding the Tampa Bay Rays has centered on a new stadium deal, team officials continue enhancing the gameday experience at Tropicana Field.

Bill Walsh, chief business officer, kicked off what he called “a delicious program” for the local press Thursday. The media event offered a first look – and taste – into significant stadium upgrades and a myriad of new concession and promotional items highlighting the team’s 25th anniversary season.

Opening Day is just a week away, and the program opened with a hype video narrated by famed sportscaster and local season ticketholder Dick Vitale, a self-described fan “from day one.” He began by stating, “if you’re a Rays fan – then you know, like I know – this team is full of surprises.”

“I’ll tell you one thing,” Vitale added. “Watching this team for the last 25 seasons – it’s been awesome, baby, with a capital A.”

Fans will watch video montages, highlights and live in-stadium footage from the Trop’s new video boards. The three conjoining screens are 30% larger than the old jumbotron, and Walsh said the 10mm ultra high-definition display would create a brighter and bolder viewing experience.

Team officials are still testing the new tech, and he later explained that they could display one continuous picture or “switch it up, board by board. So, it gives us a lot of flexibility on content,” Walsh added.

However, the most innovative new feature for the 2023 season is checkout-free concessions at the Budweiser Porch. Walsh noted that no one likes lines, and the area behind the center field wall is typically the stadium’s most congested.

So, the team known for its forward-thinking on and off the field partnered with Zippin, a company whose platform utilizes artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision technology to enable checkout-free shopping.

Fans can now insert their credit card at one of “The Shortstop’s” kiosks, grab what they like and return to their seat. The highspeed cameras and shelf sensors “create a virtual cart for the shopper.”

“Every offseason, we work tremendously hard to make Tropicana Field feel better than ever,” Walsh said. “Imagining new ways to improve the experience for our fans. And this year is no exception.”

Team officials are utilizing new technology to enable checkout-free concession purchases.

Jimmy Reed, director of ticketing and digital experience, said he expects fans to get in and out of The Shortstop in 15-20 seconds. While that depends on the day and the game, he noted it would prevent people from seeing a long line and forgoing a drink, previously a common occurrence.

MLB officials instituted a pitch clock to shorten games this year, underscoring the new technology’s benefit. The Rays are the third professional baseball team and the first Tampa Bay franchise to adopt the system.

“(Rays owner Stu Sternberg) likes to say, ‘it’s ok to break windows as long as you don’t burn the house down,” Reed relayed. “But it ultimately boils down to the fan experience and whatever new technologies we can deploy to make that as good of an experience as possible.”

Team officials expect innovative excellence from the on-field product as well.

Walsh noted that the Rays are MLB’s third-winningest team since Sternberg became principal owner in 2008. St. Petersburg’s ball club has made four straight postseason appearances, and he expects to contend for a fifth.

Bill Walsh, chief business officer for the Tampa Bay Rays.

He added that the “exciting, young team” is packed with talent and stars, and team officials say they look forward to recognizing the franchise’s previous stars through their inaugural Rays Hall of Fame.

In addition, 25th anniversary merchandise is now available, and fans will soon have several opportunities to receive free team gear. They can also buy select tickets for $10, and the new Ballpark Pass provides entry to every home game for $49 per month.

“Every offseason, we work tremendously hard to make Tropicana Field feel better than ever,” Walsh said. “Imagining new ways to improve the experience for our fans. And this year is no exception.”

Partnerships with Little Greek, Daddies Donuts and Omaha Steaks will bolster food offerings. Levy Restaurants manages the Trop’s food and beverage services, and Walsh relayed that the local culinary team recently placed first at the Tampa Bay Food Fight event.

In 2021, fans voted the stadium’s concession offerings as the best in MLB.

New 25th-anniversary merchandise is now in stock.

Community outreach continues increasing, and Walsh noted the team outfitted over 95,000 t-ball players and coaches through its jersey program. More than 500,000 Tampa Bay students have participated in the Reading with the Rays initiative, and the Rays Baseball Foundation has now donated over $18 million.

“So, just some truly unforgettable wins,” Walsh said. “On the field and off the field, as well.”

The Rays will kick off the 2023 season March 30 at home against the Detroit Tigers.

Wade Boggs, Don Zimmer and Carl Crawford are the inaugural members of the Rays Hall of Fame. The team will recognize Zimmer’s family before the April 1 game.



Continue Reading


  1. Avatar


    March 23, 2023at3:23 pm

    Bill Walsh is the best. RaysUp to another great season in St Pete!

  2. Avatar

    John Donovan

    March 24, 2023at3:25 pm

    Expecting to be at a game soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By posting a comment, I have read, understand and agree to the Posting Guidelines.

The St. Pete Catalyst

The Catalyst honors its name by aggregating & curating the sparks that propel the St Pete engine.  It is a modern news platform, powered by community sourced content and augmented with directed coverage.  Bring your news, your perspective and your spark to the St Pete Catalyst and take your seat at the table.

Email us:

Subscribe for Free

Share with friend

Enter the details of the person you want to share this article with.