Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day

GMF celebrated the Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day with the Flag Unfurling! As their Proud Steel Partner, our team is honored to have been selected to represent the Rays, Tampa Bay, and our country. 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Even with plans for a new stadium in the works, fans will see some upgrades at Tropicana Field when they enter the doors on Opening Day.

In the off season, the turf was replaced by a striped field. The stripes are meant to resemble a mowed grass field, similar to the Rays’ spring training facility and many other major league ballparks around the country.

Instead of the traditional rubber pellets, the turf is lined with a half-inch thick pad that’s backfilled with sand and topped with ground up coconut husk. The warning track is slightly different, and topped with ground walnut shells to create a different sound and feel for the players.

“In years past, you can only rely on your peripheral vision to see where the red is,” Director of Field Operations Dan Moeller explained. “But now they can feel the difference.”

The Rays donated more than 75,000 square feet of the old turf to the city of St Pete and Hillsborough County to be used for soccer fields and batting cages.

Earlier this year, the Rays discovered that the cupula structure on the top of the field’s dome had to be repaired and replaced. GMF Steel Group took on the project and decided after examining the dome that the best way to replace the cupula was using a helicopter and working from the outside.

“You could, in theory if something went wrong, you could damage the stadium and there could be a big problem before Opening Day,” President Andy Norman explained. “We also had to make sure it wasn’t going to fall apart and then fall through the roof or near any of the workers nearby.”

On a morning in early March, the group completed the project, and the dome is ready for Opening Day.

GMF Steel Group

Phone: (863) 577-0210


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