by Joe Mock
Are you in Arizona for spring training? Then join me for a free presentation on ballparks in Sun City Grand, near Peoria and Surprise.
Presenting with me will be noted sports architect Jonathan Cole of Pendulum Studio (see photo). We’ll be showing a slide show on the current state of ballpark design. Any baseball fan will enjoy this show!
The event is sponsored by the Sun City Grand Sports Interest Group. It will be held at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday March 21 in the Cimarron Room at 17100 West Clear View Blvd., Surprise, AZ 85387. There is no admission charge, and all are welcome!
Article and photos by Joe Mock, BaseballParks.com
All rights reserved
During my trip to Florida to write about the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (see our in-depth review of it here), I made a point of attending games in Lakeland and Tampa. The reason? Both had undergone sweeping renovations in preparation for this year’s spring-training exhibitions.
As this panoramic photo (taken on the roof) shows, Lakeland’s Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium looks tremendously different than it did even a year ago. Part of the year-long transformation was the extension of the grandstands down both foul lines.
No, the phrase “The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches” does not refer to just the stadium in the middle of the spring training complex. Instead, it is the label for the full-blown, $148 million facility.
Check out our in-depth review of the complex. You’ll feel like you’ve visited West Palm Beach yourself, because accompanying the article are 40 photos you won’t see anywhere else!
Click here to go to the review.
As the spring training complex known officially as Salt River Fields at Talking Stick turns six years old, it’s easy to see its impact on the sport. Today, Major League teams want bigger clubhouses, more practice space and a better experience for their springtime fans. Salt River paved the way for all of that.
This article first appeared in the Spring Training Preview issue of USA TODAY Sports Weekly. I had so much great material for it that I obtained permission to reproduce here in an unabridged form. I think you’ll enjoy the extra insights that this longer piece offers.
Check out the article here. If you’ve been lucky enough to attend a game or event at Salt River, post a comment at the bottom of the article with your impressions.
With exhibition games about to start in Arizona, it’s a good time to get you up-to-date on the biggest ballpark change in the Phoenix area.
Florida has seen a lot of dollars spent on significant upgrades at the Tigers’ complex in Lakeland ($48 million) and the Yankees’ facilities in Tampa ($40 million). Almost $150 million has been spent on a brand-new complex in West Palm Beach for the Astros and Nationals. Pick up a copy of the Feb. 15 USA TODAY Sports Weekly to check out my two-page article on the new complex.
In Arizona, though, the changes for 2017 are far less widespread. As a board member of the Cactus League Association told me, “Public funding is drying up because there is no type of funding program that’s active right now.” That means there’s fewer renovations of existing complexes and no brand-new complexes on the drawing board.
Fans of the Mariners and Padres, though, will be enjoying some great enhancements at Peoria Stadium starting this week. That’s because work has just been completed on a multi-year project that cost a total of $42 million. Read More
Since 1997, the Braves have conducted spring training at the Wide World of Sports area of Disney World near Orlando. As they’ve been nearing the end of their lease there, it’s been no secret that they’ve been checking out the possibility of building a new complex elsewhere in Florida.
Looks like they’ve found the spot.
Tuesday morning, Braves executives met with local leaders in Sarasota County to publicly discuss their desire to construct a new complex on undeveloped land near the community of North Port. The 70-acre site lies just south of the North Port campus of the State College of Florida, placing it a 12-mile drive from the spring-training complex of the Rays in Port Charlotte and under an hour to play the Orioles in Sarasota and the Pirates in Bradenton. The Red Sox and Twins, both in Fort Myers, would also be close.
“We’ve liked it at Disney,” Braves Vice Chairman John Schuerholz told me recently, “but we don’t have the teams around to play. They’ve all moved out.” Indeed, with the Nationals vacating Viera and the Astros departing Kissimmee (both bound for a new complex in West Palm Beach), the Braves are down to one team (the Tigers in Lakeland) within a two-hour drive. “It’s just too much time on the bus and not enough on the practice fields,” Schuerholz observed. Read More