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Rays to reduce stadium capacity ‘to create more intimate experience’

The Tampa Bay Rays, whose long-term future in Florida remains in severe doubt, are reducing the stadium capacity at Tropicana Field to create a more “intimate, entertaining and appealing” experience for fans.

The upper-deck level will be eliminated, meaning the seating capacity will reduce from 31,042 to between 25,000 and 26,000 for next season. New social-gathering spaces will also be added.

“These renovations mark our continued commitment to providing a first-rate fan experience at Tropicana Field,” said Rays president Matt Silverman. “Together, in concert with the reduction in seating capacity, these investments will help create a more intimate, entertaining and appealing experience for our fans.”

In 2018, the Rays averaged 14,258 fans per game, the second worst in Major League Baseball.

The announcement comes a month after the team were forced to restart a search for a new stadium site after abandoning plans to build a ballpark in Ybor City.