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Yard Goats: Good Things Come To Those Who Wait


After a year of acrimony and delays, the Eastern League’s Hartford Yard Goats moved into their new home Thursday. Dunkin’ Donuts Park is on the northern edge of the city’s downtown, and should be the catalyst of further development in this blighted neighborhood.

We were there to chronicle the first game (if you follow us on Twitter, you’ll always get to see photos from the games we attend), and we will provide you with an extensive review and dozens of pictures shortly.  Be watching for it.

Minor League President Pat O’Conner was at the debut, and he was kind enough to sit down with me for an interview. While you’ll learn much more of what he had to say in our upcoming review, he made one comment that bears repeating here. “Remember the old adage: Good things come to those who wait. I think Hartford is going to get good things.”

Indeed, there is an enormous amount to like about this ballpark. We’re anxious to tell you the whole story about those “good things.”

 

Free slide show March 21 in Surprise


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!

Fantastic renovations in Lakeland and Tampa


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.

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Everything you’d want to know about The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches


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.

Salt River Fields: the complex that revolutionized spring training


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.

Peoria completes $42-million renovations


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