We've talked at length here at Sports Pros(e) about the virtues (or lack thereof) of Tropicana Field, home to the Tampa Bay
So homely is the Trop that it could ultimately lead to last year's American League champions eventually leaving the city for grassier pastures if a new stadium isn't in the cards.
During baseball games in the Trop, if a ball hits the catwalks at the top of the dome, it's either a ground-rule double or a home run, depending on which of the four concentric rings it hits.
This begs the obvious question, if a batted baseball can reach those heights, feasably couldn't a punted football?
St. Pete Times has the answer:
"We don't think there will be a problem, but we'll let the game officials decide that on their own," said Rick Nafe, Rays vice president for operations and facilities. "And if you can play a baseball game with ground rules, you can play football with ground rules, too."
That's OK and all, but let's get practical here. I've always been an admirer of the St. Pete Times, and this article is an example of why. In a stroke of journalistic genius, the paper sent a reporter to the Trop with former USF soccer goalkeeper Mike Pepper to see if he could punt a football into the catwalks. YES! That's exactly why we went into this field!
Here's what happened:
"Pepper hit the D catwalk, but not in any normal game situation -- he put two balls over the outermost ring, punting out of bounds from the far 20-yard line.
"Pepper, the morning-show host and assistant program director at 1010 CBS Sports, also hit the D ring once, with the ball caroming off the restaurant in centerfield and bouncing into the touch tank in right-center where fans can touch live cownose rays."
Environmental groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have not moved in yet to call for a protective cover to go over the touch tank yet, but with cownose rays in danger they sure as Evan Longoria's sweet swing should.