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Rays trimming capacity at Tropicana Field by more than 5,000

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Rays are trimming capacity of Tropicana Field by more than 5,000 seats as part of renovations and capital improvements to the domed stadium for the upcoming season.

The team announced Friday that the entire upper deck will be closed, trimming seating to an estimated 25,000-26,000. That's down from 31,042, which already was the smallest capacity in the major leagues.

Tampa Bay finished next to last in attendance in 2018 at 14,258 per game. The Miami Marlins (10,013) were the only team in the majors that drew fewer fans.

The announcement comes about a month after the Rays announced they were abandoning plans to build a new ballpark in the Ybor City neighborhood in Tampa.

The team says it has invested more than $50 million in stadium renovations since 2005, including more than $15 million in the past two years.

In addition to creating a more intimate setting for fans, the latest project will include creation of a premium seating area that'll be known as the Left Field Ledge, as well as installation of new artificial turf and energy-efficient LED lights throughout the stadium.

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

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Updated January 4, 2019

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