It is the 20th anniversary of one of the weirdest months in sports venue history. In 1998, the Devils Rays hosted their first Opening Day in franchise history. Tropicana Field broke ground in 1986 with the goal of bringing an MLB team to Tampa Bay, and on March 31, 1998, the dream was going to become a reality.

But first, the Tropicana Field staff had to build a basketball court. The domed stadium was hosting the South Regional of the NCAA tournament on March 20 and 22. Arena Football (Tampa Bay Storm), hockey (Tampa Bay Lighting) and tennis (1990 Davis Cup) were among the sports that had already called the venue home before the Devil Rays, so the staff had experience converting from one configuration to another. But basketball to baseball was new.

Duke beat Syracuse, and Kentucky beat UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen (talk about big-name brands), and Kentucky, the eventual national champion, held off Duke in the Elite Eight.

Nine days after Kentucky punched its ticket to the Final Four, Wilson Alvarez threw the Devil Rays' first-ever pitch on the same field/court. The Devils Rays fell to the Tigers on Opening Day, 11-6, but Wade Boggs did hit the team's first home run.

March Madness returned to The Trop for the 1999 Final Four. Duke beat Michigan State, and UConn beat Ohio State before Richard Hamilton and the Huskies cut down the nets in St. Petersburg.

Tropicana Field is still the only baseball-specific stadium to host the Final Four. And that's probably no accident. The NCAA tournament has not returned to Tropicana Field in the past 19 years. The UConn-Duke championship game only drew 41,340 people due to certain seats not having a view of the court. For reference, last year's championship game between UNC and Gonzaga drew 76,168 at Glendale's University of Phoenix Stadium.

But 20 years ago, it seemed like a good idea to play college basketball and baseball in the same stadium, just a week and a half apart.

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