HomeTrending MLB NewsIs Playing Under A Dome An Advantage For The Rays?

Is Playing Under A Dome An Advantage For The Rays?

The Tampa Bay Rays have the only true dome in the MLB. Does that give them an advantage over other teams in the league? Of the 30 teams in the league, 22 teams play in an open stadium whereas seven teams have retractable roofs, and one dome. Could protection from nature’s elements affect a team’s performance? Would that advantage benefit both teams at the same time, cancelling it out and equalizing the playing field?

The first dome in the MLB was opened in Houston in 1965. The Astrodome was the first environment controlled indoor ballpark. Eventually, Father Time caught up with the Astrodome and it had to be replaced. The Astros left this historical relic and moved into a park with a retractable roof.

A ballpark was built in Montreal for the Expos in 1977. The original design had a roof but due to harsh winter conditions, however it took another 10 years to place the roof on the building. A controlled environment did not help as the franchise was relocated to Washington DC and now are the Nationals. The neighboring city of Toronto built the first retractable roof in baseball. It was once called the Skydome and it was home to the back-to-back World Series Champions Blue Jays (1992, 1993) and witnessed one the most exciting post-season home runs.

The Minnesota Twins played for many years under a true dome called the Metrodome. It was a multi-sport facility, and it was shared with the NFL’s Vikings. It was once rumored that the auxiliary fans would blow air outward towards the outfield when the Twins were at-bat in the 1991 World Series. Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett’s game six home run barely makes it over the wall to force a game seven. Did the auxiliary fans help the ball travel further? The Twins moved into a new open-air ballpark in 2010.

The opposite occurred in Milwaukee. The Brewers left County Field behind and moved inside. Their new building has a retractable roof and has gone through a series of name changes. The city of Seattle went from a true dome to a retractable roof. Miami and Phoenix have extreme weather conditions which forces their franchises to play indoors. I have attended Diamondback games; sometimes the roof is opened during the seventh-inning stretch. The Texas Rangers have the newest ballpark with a retractable roof. Currently, seven teams have retractable roofs.

There were 41 rainouts in the 2023 season. Domed stadiums prevent rainouts, but baseball is an outdoor game. Certain cities need a roof to survive. Imagine how many rainouts would occur if there was no roof in Miami. Tampa needs a roof. Just like Miami, there would be countless rainouts without a dome. No one would attend a day game in Pheonix to watch Diamondbacks play. Everyone would fry up like bacon. The Brewers made the right decision by moving inside. Milwaukee in April or September is not ideal baseball weather. Twins’ fans celebrated their move to an open-air field in 2010 but the playoff format continues to expand. Snow could interfere with a World Series game. Has that ever happened? Snow has delayed games in Denver but the Rockies do not play under a roof. What are they thinking?

Rainouts are understandable. Last season, Detroit Tiger games were rained out the most, six times. The Mets had the second most rainouts. To us fans it is an inconvenience but to ownership it is a major loss of revenue. Of the 41 rainouts, 23 of them resulted in a doubleheader the next day. Fans love doubleheaders but the players (except Ernie Banks) and coaching staff hate them. Who likes working a double shift at work?

In the 2023 season the Rays had a home record of 53-28 (.654%). Teams are expected to have better winning percentages at home than away. In this case, away games could be played in an uncontrolled environment. The Rays posted a 46-35 (.568%) record for away games. On the road, the Rays played 59 games in open-air parks and had a record of 38-21 (.553%). They won 11 of the 16 series. Very impressive. Surprisingly, the Rays’ road record versus teams that play under a roof is not as good. They played six of the seven teams (did not play in Milwaukee) and compiled a 10-10 record. In these 20 games, both teams are accustomed to playing indoors. The Rays won the series against the Diamondbacks, Astros, and Marlins; and lost to Mariners, Rangers, and Blue Jays. It seems like the perceived advantage of playing indoor baseball equaled each team out. To answer the question, do the Rays have an advantage playing under a dome…… the answer is no.


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