Baltimore Orioles

Ed Smith Stadium

Sarasota, FL

Year Opened: 1989 (renovated 2011)

Capacity: 8,500

Grade: 90.5 Ranking: FL: #2(t)/14; Overall: TBD

Note: A full, in-depth review will come out in 2017-2018. The following bullet points consist of quick opening thoughts. Likes and dislikes will be extensively qualified in subsequent reviews. They also don’t contain detailed architectural or aesthetic observations.  

Many games attended from 2000-2006 before renovation
March 14th 2012: Infield Box
March 18th 2013: Infield Box
March 9th 2014: Infield Box
March 17th 2016: Infield Box
March 16th 2017: Infield Box

Photo Gallery at bottom of page

 

  • Ed Smith Stadium shows how its not about how much space you have, but what you do with that space
  • If this ballpark had a 360-degree concourse, it would be the clear best park in the Grapefruit League
  • In terms of amenities, the park has way more going for it than spatially sprawling parks like Surprise Stadium, Goodyear Ballpark, or The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches
  • Ed Smith Stadium benefits from probably the most dramatic renovation you’ll ever see, as the pre-renovated appearance is unrecognizable in every respect
  • While they used the bones and layout of the old structure, this could be treated as a new ballpark
  • More than any other spring training ballpark, Ed Smith Stadium emphasized the beauty of the concourses, as they resemble the exterior hallway of a Floridian resort
  • The main rotunda entrance is exceptional for a spring training ballpark, highlighted by a chandelier of Oriole bats and pennants
  • Note how everything is painted and repainted on the concourse, from advertisements to the particular spring training year emblem, while other teams rotate posters
  • Note the green and orange tile outlining the portal walkways that enter the seating bowl
  • Note the beautiful landscaping of the 1st and 3rd base patios flanking the concourse
  • I could go on!
  • The ballpark is filled with Oriole historical references and other artistic flourishes
  • Overall, the aesthetics are some of the best in all of spring training
  • Ed Smith Stadium uses space better than any other spring training ballpark, as every corner is packed with some kind of amenity
  • This is the only park where if you’re grabbing a bite to eat before the game, you’ll almost always find a table or sitting area
  • The Third Base Lounge is often open to all fans, and is the nicest climate-controlled accessible bar in spring training; Café 54’ is also unparalleled in spring training
  • To compensate for the lack of a concourse beyond center to left field, they built the ballpark up, not outward, resulting in the best terrace level (2nd) concourse in spring training
  • I wonder whether renovations sometimes force teams, cities, and architects to be more creative, as in many ways, some of the new spring training parks don’t match this

 

Likes and Dislikes

What I like:

  • Location in one of the most upscale cities in Florida and a prime tourist destination
  • Good interior aesthetics
  • Currently the best exterior design in the Grapefruit League
  • Concourse aesthetics emphasized
  • Reuse and refurbishment of old Camden Yards seats
  • Excellent videoboard
  • Great atmosphere and good fans
  • Oriole historical references and artistic touches everywhere you look
  • The most accessible bullpens in Florida for watching pitchers warm up
  • Good concessions offering solid variety and quality of seafood along with impressive selection of Boars Head sandwiches and healthy fare
  • Some of the best bars and sitting areas in spring training: Café 54’ and patio, the Third Base Lounge, two bullpen perches, two concourse patios, left field perch, terrace level concourse tables and lounge areas

What I don’t like:

  • Lack of 360-degree concourse
NEXT - Setting

Gallery

Scorecard:

Setting: 9/10

Location/Access: 9/10

Architecture & Aesthetics: 24/28

Exterior Design: 9/10

Interior Aesthetics: 12/15

Concourses: 3/3

Functionality: 17.5/25

Sightlines: 8/10

Seat Comfort: 3.5/5

Concourses: 3.5/7

Scoreboard: 2.5/3

Atmosphere: 15.5/17

Ballpark Personality: 9.5/10

Fan Support: 4/5

Ballpark Policies: 2/2

Amenities: 16.5/20

Concessions: 9/10

Premium Seats: 3.5/4

Sitting Areas: 4/4

Entertainment: 0/2

Conclusion

Bonus: 8

Final Score: 90.5