The dark grey color can be changed via a simple MEL
timeControl -e -backgroundColor 0.5 0.5 0.5 $gPlayBackSlider;
timeControl -e -forceRefresh $gPlayBackSlider;
Where the 0.5 0.5 0.5 is the new lighter grey color.
Note: this is a temporary change, as it will go back to default color after Maya restarts.
For a permanent change , add the lines to your userSetup.mel file located in C:\Users\XXX\Documents\maya\2014-x64\prefs\scripts
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