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Al Lang’s face lift will cost $4.5-million

    The spring training home of the Devil Rays has a new look for the second season and will be fan-friendly.

photo
Charles McKell of Progressive Steel and Iron works on installing the rotunda that is part of the renovations at Al Lang Field.
[Times photo: Jonathan Newton]

By ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 5, 1999


Al Lang Field, the Rays’ spring training home, has a distinctly new look to it.

Rick Nafe, the team’s vice president of stadium operations and facilities, said the renovations, aimed at providing increased comfort for spectators and players, should cost the Rays about $4.5-million once completed.

There are three dramatic changes.

Two new grand staircases adorn the entrance to Al Lang and bring spectators onto the main concourse level. The design is similar to Legends Field in Tampa.

Originally, the entrances were at street level, and fans had to walk up two steep ramps on either side of home plate.

The team left two interior entrances on either side of the ticket booth, but the bulk of the traffic is expected to flow through the staircases.

Gone are the batting cages that stretched down the rightfield line. In their place, the Rays built a second berm, an elevated grassy picnic area where fans can enjoy being at the game without having to sit in the stands. Last year, the Rays built a berm down the leftfield line and it was one of the more popular viewing spots. Tickets for either berms cost $3 and are sold only on game day.

The new berm is called the Beach and features a distinctly oceanic theme, including an oversized lifeguard deck chair. Rays mascot Raymond will be on duty most of the time.

Click for enlargement
Click for enlargement.

The batting cages were moved behind right centerfield. The area, between the Mahaffey Theatre and the outfield fence, was acquired by the Rays during the original lease agreement for Al Lang.

The Rays also have built a regulation-size infield in the same area. The new auxiliary infield will be used for early morning workouts and is open to public view. Spectators can watch the players without paying to get into Al Lang.

“This is part of the plan to bring baseball to the streets,” Nafe said. “In this way, the fans can get a close look and interact with players early in the morning and not have to pay. Then they can either go into the stadium or go back to work. It’s a unique situation that we think should work.”

Al Lang’s main concourses have been expanded, and the facility has added 12 additional toilets and a few concession stands. The press box has been air conditioned and expanded toward the third-base side of the upper level. An additional conference/work room was added at the press box level.

In the locker room, there has been significant renovations. Plagued last year by flooding problems, the Rays raised the floor and put in a pump system to eject the water.

 

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