Tampa Bay has killed the Tropicana.
For generations, the word Tropicana meant Ricky Ricardo, sexy Cubano dancers and delicious sun-sweetened Florida orange juice.
But now, thanks to over a decade of the worst attendance, amenity and accoutrement in professional sports courtesy of Tropicana Field, the home stadium of the Tampa Bay Rays, that word has been sullied for generations to come.
And with no new stadium for the Rays in sight, the damage may be irreparable.
Let's have a look at Tropicana Field and the 30 Worst Stadiums and Arenas in Sports.
The former home of the New Jersey Nets, New Jersey Devils, and Seton Hall men's basketball, the Izod Center now counts only Fordham amongst its tenants.
And this is no accident.
The Izod Center is a notoriously mundane, no frills arena which makes taking in a game slightly more exciting than sitting on a curb in Newark and watching for drive-by shootings.
Nothing to see here folks, just an incredibly old (1965) outdated stadium built to be home to both football and baseball but no longer has a baseball team and is woefully outdated by NFL standards.
The Alamodome was built in 1990 with the hope of drawing an NFL franchise to the city, and played home to the San Antonio Spurs during their ascendency.
But no NFL team has come, and the Spurs now have their own (properly sized) arena.
So, this stadium sits empty, hosting the occasional bowl game, exhibition game, and high school game.
Yes, there is hockey in Nashville, not that anyone has noticed.
Games at the Bridgestone Center are poorly attended and accompanied by few amenities.
Here's a multiple choice question for you:
In 1921, the University of California broke ground on California Memorial Stadium, and ended up building it:
a) No where near a fault line;
b) Kinda close to a fault line;
c) Dangerously close to a fault line;
d) On an actual fault line.
The answer is "d", on an actual fault line. The "Haywood Fault" passes directly under the field of play, very nearly goal post to goal post, and is causing the left side of the stadium to move away from the right side of the stadium at a rate of 1.2 millimeters per year.
Here's the thing about the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis:
Completed in 1995, it was built right at the end of the Dome Era in professional sports, an era that began with the Astrodome, peaked with the Louisiana Superdome, and reached its end in St Louis.
The thing is, there is a reason to have domed stadiums in Seattle, Minnesota, Houston, Tampa, New Orleans, and even Atlanta, where weather conditions can make the playing field either way too hot or way too cold.
But St. Louis? What are protecting ourselves from?
Candlestick Park was built on relatively worthless industrial property resulting from a no-bid process which became the subject of a grand jury investigation shortly before it opened. The construction was essentially a swindle for the City of San Francisco, as the city convinced the Giants to move to a location that essentially couldn't be used for anything else.
Scandalized from its beginning, the stadium has now essentially outlived its useful live, as it is a patchwork of constant repair and re-repair. The Giants have long since moved to AT&T Park, which has made a genius multi-use design into an absurd single-use plan.
How are the 49ers still playing in this thing?
Only Madison Square Garden and Oracle Arena in Oakland are older basketball facilities than the home of the Milwaukee Bucks, and both of those arenas have had or will soon undergo major renovations.
Check out this list of structural issues plaguing the Bradley Center:
- no club seating
- no state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems
- outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems
- deteriorating seating
- outdated event production technology
- insufficient parking around the arena.
All of these factors have contributed to the Milwaukee Bucks being the lowest-valued team in the NBA and in the bottom tier in terms of overall revenue.
Make no mistake about it: Nationals Park has absolutely revolutionized Southeast Washington D.C. That area has undergone more urban renewal in the last six years than most blighted areas get in a generation.
But as ballparks go, this one is a massive disappointment. In an era that has given us incredibly imaginative retro-fabulous ballparks, Nationals Park is glass, concrete and steel disaster.
We make no judgments on how fabulous it probably is to watch the Miami Dolphins play in 80-degree weather in this stadium in December.
But for baseball, this stadium is the pits from both a structural and climatology perspective.
Nobody wants to sit in a nearly completely empty stadium and get rained on day in and day out, not matter how good the team is.
Nothing like attending a soccer game with 9,000 of your closest friends in a stadium shaped for baseball and big enough for football.
Who are we? How did we get here?
We're going to play with the criteria here just a little bit, because Coors Field is a lovely stadium. Can't say enough about it.
At the same time, though, the mile-high effect of playing in Denver will, in all likelihood, plague the Rockies forever.
It briefly appeared as though the humidor experiment would save the day for the Rockies, but it appears that they have regressed. Just ask Ubaldo Jimenez, who this season has a 4.20 ERA, which is comprised of a road ERA of 2.83 and a home ERA of 5.55.
If your pitchers cannot succeed at home, you simply are not going to have lots of successful seasons.
PetCo Park is the anti-Coors Field. Nearly impossible to hit in.
Just as a team must be able to pitch at home, a team must also be able to hit at home.
PetCo Park gives its team one of the worst home-field disadvantages in sports.
Check this out:
The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum was constructed for $32 million, but in 2011 dollars that numbers would be $163 million.
This stadium is so old that inflation-adjustment more than pentuples the cost of construction.
The Coliseum has a capacity of just over 16,000 for hockey, the smallest capacity in the NHL.
Ugh, where to begin?
The stadium is old and crumbling, out of touch with modern baseball arenas and without the amenties of modern football arenas.
It is cookie-cutter, which creates too much foul ground and obscuring space for baseball and too many odd angles for football.
And frankly, it is in Oakland, whose days as a viable three-sport market may be numbered.
Thanks for the memories.
Here's all you need to know:
We've been without NFL football in the second largest market in the United States for more than 15 years because this is the best the City of Los Angeles can put forth in terms of a football stadium.
That alone tells you this classic arena, constructed in 1921, must have some serious issues.
There is no bigger fan of the New Orleans Saints than me, and I love the Louisiana Superdome with all my heart.
That said, it is a gigantic, cavernous tomb, and has all the charm of a gigantic warehouse. You better be there for a sold out Saints game, Super Bowl or Sugar Bowl, because if you are there to see the Tulane Green Wave, a Final Four, or a concert, it is simply impossible to have an adequate experience.
I have no problem with Nice Things, and I have no problems with beautiful stadiums that cater to the fan experience.
But this $1.3 billion boondoggle is a monument to excess, a cathedral in the religion of capitalist largess, and a furtherance of the haves as the expense of the have-nots.
If America's sports hey-day was marked by the neighborhood kids sneaking at peek at the ballgame through eyeholes in the outfield wall, this temple to Jerry Jones represents the further exclusion of the common fan from the major professional sports experience.
Two tragedies here:
First, the people responsible for this gem had over $250 million to spend and apparently created a stadium with an abundance of bad-view seats and atmospheric conditions such as swirling winds and fog which have brought more than a few critics to the conclusion that this sucker should have been enclosed.
Second, the stadium is a blight upon the heroic and noble sports icon whose name has been attached to it.
Oh, to be fair, this is a lovely stadium in and of itself.
And in the SEC, it would not have enough seats.
But the Temple Owls regularly draw just enough fans to fill a basketball arena.
On Saturday afternoons at the Linc, the last one out locks up.
(And we'll let this be a stand-in for all large NFL stadiums hosting the home games of small-time college programs.)
I won't bore you with longing for the days when Willie Mays would play stickball in the streets with the kids of Brooklyn and reporters and ballplayers would share a drink at the hotel bar while on the road.
Major League Baseball is a billion dollar business, and I will not begrudge owners and players for doing whatever they can to increase revenues and make more money.
But the new Yankee Stadium, with its ticket price structures designed to cater to the uber-wealthy, has sacrificed so much of the aesthetic that we love so much about baseball that is makes the 1980s seem quaint by comparison.
Baseball has every right to be big business, and the new Yankee Stadium can be as fancy and high-end as it wants to be. But let's not mistake it for a great stadium.
First of all, in case anyone wonders how I feel about Wrigley Field, I named my son after the stadium, so back off (no, really, his name is Alexander Wrigley Chancey).
Nevertheless, as wonderful and amazing as Wrigley Field is, it is also one of the worst stadiums in sports for one simple reason: It is the home team's own worst enemy.
Because of the historic marvel that is the Chicago Cubs' home stadium, the Cubs will sell tickets, concessions, merchandise, etc., regardless of whether the team wins or loses. And so, over the years, the Cubs' front office has rarely felt the pressure to actually field a well-run franchise.
And why should they? They have built it, and we will continue to come.
This was more bad luck than anything else.
After playing in Comiskey Park for over 80 years, in 1991 the Chicago White Sox built themselves a handsome, nattily attired ballpark that was not altogether interesting or unique.
The following year, the Baltimore Orioles unveiled Orioles Park at Camden Yards, and ushered in a new era of baseball stadium renaissance that changed our understanding of what a ballpark should be.
Just bad luck.
Dear Boise State:
Yes, we had never heard of Boise State before you got everyone's attention with that ridiculous blue field. In fact, we thought it was actually pretty cool at the time.
But for pete's sake, you guys are playing with the big boys now. Can we get rid of that ridiculous field?
The sky is blue, the sun is yellow, blood is red, and grass is green.
Let's play some football, dammit.
This arena was built, get this, with the funds earned by the Tulane University football team for appearing in the 1932 Rose Bowl.
The arena seats all of a 3,600 fans.
Division 1-A Basketball: It's fantastic!
"Hey, guys, we're here with the plans for the new Redskins stadium. We can't wait to show you them!"
"Oh good! This is a glorious day. We're so excited to be leaving our totally uninteresting, symmetical, cookie-cutter home field at RFK Stadium. We can't wait to see what you've done to make the new stadium interesting and unique."
"Uhhh . . . . we'll be back."
You know how some people have what are called "project cars," which are old beat-up cars that they buy, and then slowly acquire used parts to add to their cars until they are all souped-up?
Byrd Stadium is the project car of football stadiums. One side rises high into the sky like a big SEC stadium, while the other side has only one level, like some tiny Conference USA venue.
Some of the seats are aluminum bleachers, while others are seats with backs.
The press box towers over one side of the field, but is in the shadow of the other side.
And the stadium is not enclosed, meaning that this sucker has nosebleed seats while willingly foregoing seats that would be on groundlevel and close to the field.
Like a bad patchwork quilt.
If you were going to make a horror movie that took place during a college football game, this would be a good picture for the movie poster.
Here's a quick "do we have a good stadium" test for all you cities out there:
If, after a major snow storm, your roof crumbles and deflates like an old soccer ball, you don't have a stadium.
You have a circus tent.
And that ain't good.
Distantly, distantly, the worst venue in sports, it is almost a site to be seen simply because of how awful it is.
To be in Tropicana Field, one wonders if the stadium is so horrendous because it is one of the earliest domed stadiums, and has simply not held up well.
But this thing was built in 1990!