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.
March 20th 2009: Box
March 9th 2013: Box
March 18th 2016: Box
*Note: There are 23 spring training ballparks, as 7 complexes are shared by two teams. For the “Fan Support” score, I usually just split the difference, as differences in fan support don’t fundamentally alter the ballpark experience. I found only one exception: Roger Dean Stadium, where the Cardinals (arguably possessing the best fanbase) and the Marlins (some would say the worst) play. Thus, I split those two scores, which is why there are 24 different ballparks graded overall.
- Florida Auto Exchange Stadium’s score seems extreme compared to other parks, but the astonishingly low grade is perfectly fitting
- Indeed, 59 is nearly three standard deviations below the Grapefruit League ballpark mean, meaning it almost meets the definition of a true statistical outlier
- Dunedin Stadium (referred to as such going forth) is an outlier
- It’s an amazing two generations behind most other ballparks; lets just stick to the Grapefruit League (Florida) to illustrate this point
- Ballparks that opened or were renovated in the late 1990s to early 2000s ranging from Roger Dean Stadium to Joker Marchant Stadium (1st) to Osceola County Stadium featured beautified aesthetic scenes, wide concourses, fold-down seats, specialty concessions, rudimentary videoboards, luxury suites, and party decks
- Ballparks that opened or were renovated in the early 2010s-mid 2010s like Ed Smith Stadium, Hammond Stadium, and Joker Marchant Stadium (2nd) featured even more significantly enhanced aesthetic scenes, 360-degree concourses, destination bars, larger HD videoboards, specialty seating options, and premium areas sometimes rivaling major league parks
- Joker Marchant Stadium perfectly illustrates this point, receiving two (2003, 2017) renovations during the time when Dunedin Stadium should have received one
- Dunedin Stadium is truly antiquated, not having any of these features and failing to resemble any of these ballparks
- The park also suffered from poor timing, opening in 1990 right before the wave of super spring training complexes. Although, I’m not sure it would have mattered, as the Blue Jays were tethered to this site
- Dunedin Stadium went through minor enhancements in 2002, but I don’t think it significantly altered the ballpark experience
- The park is intimate, but it seems to slip into the territory of being “bland and uninspired”, rather than “cozy and downscaled,” even before accounting for functional and aesthetic failures
- These are major league baseball teams. It’s incredible to see one so behind the others in any category, and spring training stadiums are a pretty significant category all things considered
Likes and Dislikes
Things I like:
- Dunedin Stadium’s neighborhood location
- Craft Beer Dugout Lounge
- Bringing a taste of Canada to Florida
Things I don’t like:
- Limited parking and poor access
- Exterior and interior design that doesn’t attempt to have any aesthetic value
- Seats that don’t fold down
- Narrow concourses
- A scoreboard system so outdated it reads “home” and “away,” not even indicating “Blue Jays” in the “home” slot. Needless to say, no videoboard.
- Poor sightlines down the right field line
- Lackluster concessions with no variety
I hope no Blue Jay fans take this personally. This is simply a function of the Blue Jays and Dunedin neglecting to upgrade the fan experience for such a significant period of time. My question is why. Why? Why did other spring training teams leave their homes when facilities were inadequate? Or why were other longtime city-team relationships like Clearwater-Philadelphia or Lakeland-Detroit more successful? Or did the Blue Jays even ask for enhancements? Were they loyal to Dunedin to a fault? In any case, they are now finally working on renovations. Lets hope the ballpark experience improves significantly.
NEXT - Setting