Ballpark engineers used Statcast data to help track the flight of fly balls under a dome.

By Jenna West
August 17, 2018

The Rays revealed plans last month for their proposed new ballpark in Tampa, but the stadium engineers gathered design inspiration from an unlikely source– the Yankees.

While the Rays receive lots of criticism for their current domed ballpark, Tropicana Field, they also plan to have a roof on their proposed $892 million stadium, due to weather-related concerns. However, the Rays do not want their new stadium to have issues with fly balls hitting the dome or bouncing off of catwalks like at the Trop, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Ballpark engineers used information from Statcast to help avoid that problem while designing the new structure. They downloaded data on 7,736 fly balls hit in fair territory at the Trop and looked at the speed and angle of balls as they came off the bat. After this information filled 90 columns in a spreadsheet, a computer modeled a "dome" of fly balls that engineers could consult while designing, reports the Times.

The engineers also plugged in the data of every ball hit in every major league ballpark by the Yankees' top sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. They included Judge and Stanton's hits in their "dome" model.

"We wanted to make sure we caught any crazy outliers from the hardest hitters in baseball," said Aaron White, a principal and director of digital practice at Walter P. Moore, the same group that designed the retractable roof at Marlins Park.

The Rays' proposed stadium will feature a fixed translucent roof with sliding glass walls that open completely, as well as a field made of artificial turf.

Tropicana Field sits across the Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg. But the new structure would be located in Ybor City, a Tampa neighborhood.

The stadium project is estimated to open for the 2023 season and cost $892 million. The roof is expected to account for $245 million of the total.

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