|BRIGHT HOUSE FIELD|
|Dimensions||329L, 381LC, 408C, 330L|
|Ticket Prices||To be announced|
|Tickets on Sale||Thursday, Jan. 7, 9 a.m.|
|Ticket Web Site||mlb.com|
|Address||601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater, FL 33765|
|Directions||Take Hwy. 19 north of St. Petersburg to Drew Street. At Old Coachman Road hang a right; the ballpark is ahead on your right.|
Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training: Never Better in Clearwater
If there is a gold standard among Grapefruit League ballparks, it is Clearwater’s Bright House Field. It is the standard by which older ballparks are evaluated and new ballparks are planned. It’s not the biggest or the most historic, but on virtually every level it’s the nicest, and it works very well on a functional level: you never, ever feel crushed or crowded, even when you’re queuing up for parking or an entrance to the ballpark. We really can’t think of a better time at a spring-training game than to spend the afternoon at Bright House Field.
When the Phillies were planning Bright House Field before 2004, they knew they had a task in coming up with a replacement to what was a very fine facility, Jack Russell Stadium. Yes, Jack Russell was a neighborhood park with a rich tradition and a renowned Tiki bar. But at the end of the day, Bright House Field far surpasses Jack Russell Stadium. Bright House Field, if anything, is more intimate despite being a larger facility: the front-row seats are five feet close to the action than those at Jack Russell (which makes batters happy: the foul territory here is postage-stamp-sized), and outfield berm seating puts fans right on the edge of the action – practically close enough to touch Ryan Howard.
Best of all, the Phillies kept the best of Jack Russell. The Tiki Bar is out in left field and is biggest and better than ever: it’s a great place to grab one of the bar stools and down a margarita or three while soaking in the warmth after a cold and wet Philly winter. (You’ll need to buy a special ticket to sit in the Tiki Bar area; in the past you could wander up and just claim a spot.) Groups can socialize and catch some action in the reserved picnic tables down the third-base line. And families can let the kids run loose while throwing down blankets in the outfield berm.
But it adds a slew of amenities never even considered for Jack Russell: an outfield berm perfect for lounging in the sun; luxury boxes for the hoi polloi; and a huge video screen sponsored by Hooters. (If you’re on the nostalgic side, the original Hooters is close to the ballpark.)
Finally, the ballpark is easy to find: it’s next to U.S. 19 — a major throughway in Clearwater — and easy to get to from anywhere in the Tampa-St. Pete area. It’s also close to Dunedin, the spring home of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Spring Training History
The Philadelphia Phillies have held spring training in the following locations: Philadelphia (1901); Washington, N.C. (1902); Richmond, Va. (1903); Savannah, Ga. (1904); Augusta, Ga. (1905); Savannah, Ga. (1906-1908); Southern Pines, N.C. (1909-1910); Birmingham, Ala. (1911); Hot Springs, Ark. (1912); Southern Pines, N.C. (1913); Wilmington, N.C. (1914); St. Petersburg (1915-1918); Charlotte (1919); Birmingham, Ala. (1920); Gainesville (1921); Leesburg, Fla. (1922-1924); Bradenton (1925-1927); Winter Haven (1928-1937); Biloxi, Miss. (1938); New Braunfels, Texas (1939); Miami Beach (1940-1942); Hershey, Penn. (1943); Wilmington, Del. (1944-1945); Miami Beach (1946); Clearwater (1947-present).
The Philadelphia Phillies have been training in Clearwater since 1947 and at Jack Russell Stadium from 1955 through 2003.
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