Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tropicana: It's the Pits for Hoops

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tropicana: It's the Pits for Hoops

Article excerpt

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kentucky, Duke, UCLA and Syracuse. All the

trophies and rings and banners and braggadocio and history and

heritage together in one feverish, fanatical basketball bash.

And what better place for this celebration of James Naismith's

invention than this hoops hotbed, what better venue for four of

the nation's most traditional programs to come together than the

site of this year's South Regional:

Tropicana Field?

Let's see, there's Pauley Pavilion, Allen Fieldhouse, Rupp

Arena, Cameron Indoor and, yep, the venerable, the legendary,

the time-honored Tropicana Field.

"I can't say that I've ever actually played basketball on a

baseball field," said UCLA forward Travis Reed yesterday after

the Bruins went through a final practice session before

tonight's Sweet 16 game with Kentucky. "It's a little weird

walking out on the court and seeing dugouts and foul poles off

in the distance."

Don't be embarrassed if you don't quite recognize the name.

Tropicana Field, the home of Major League Baseball's expansion

Tampa Bay Devil Rays, changes identities more than a Middle

Eastern terrorist. The decade-old stadium, known as the Suncoast

Dome and then the ThunderDome, will have gone through three name

changes and $60 million in renovations before it hosts its

inaugural baseball game in two weeks.

Of course, across the bay in Tampa, they are tearing down a

perfectly good football stadium and replacing it with a brand

new state-of-the-art facility at a cost of $200 million to

taxpayers. The likely name of the new football palace: ChemLawn

Stadium, a.k.a. The House that Chinchbugs and Sod Webworms

Built.

One simple question: If Tropicana Field has been around for the

better part of 10 years waiting for a baseball team then . . .

WHY ISN'T IT DONE YET? There were dozens of frantic workers in

hardhats yesterday, scrambling to get the facility ready for

March 31, when the Detroit Tigers come to town for opening day.

Procrastination is one thing, but a DECADE? We tore down and

built an entire football stadium in Jacksonville in one-fifth

that time. …

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