|CHARLOTTE SPORTS PARK|
|Year Opened||1986; renovated 2009|
|Dimensions||343L, 384LC, 413C, 384RC, 3434R|
|Local Airport||Fort Myers|
|Ticket Prices||To be announced|
|Tickets on Sale||Friday, January 13 at 10 a.m., online only; at the Charlotte Sports Park box office on Saturday, January 14 at 10 a.m.|
|Ticket Web Site||raysbaseball.com|
|Address||2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte, FL 33948|
|Directions||From I-75, take Exit 170 for Highway 769/Kings Highway toward Port Charlotte. Turn left onto Highway 769/Kings Highway, and then things get a little complicated: you’ll want to turn left at Peachland Boulevard, right at Birchcrest Boulevard, right at Bachmann Boulevard, and then a left on Veterans Boulevard, which will turn into El Jobean Road. You’ll go on El Jobean for almost seven miles. The complex will be on your left.|
Tampa Bay Rays 2017 Spring Training: If You Go …
The Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins train in nearby Fort Myers. In addition, the Baltimore Orioles train up the freeway in Sarasota, and the many teams training in the Tampa-St. Pete area are a two-hour drive away.
Charlotte Sports Park isn’t exactly situated in the midst of a scenic Florida locale. True, a four-lane highway provides easy access for fans. But the livestock expo across the highway and a nearby motorcycle repair shop really don’t add much to the ambiance. And if you summon a satellite shot via Google Maps, you’ll see that the ballpark is pretty much surrounded by acres and acres of scrub land. Charlotte County didn’t invest tens of millions into a ballpark renovation in order to attract associated economic development; the investment was made to attract the Rays, and that was it.
So forget about spending any time near the ballpark before or after the game. You’ll be driving somewhere, so the decision is where.
Port Charlotte is located on the northern part of the Fort Myers metro area and is considered to be the more working-class area: whereas Naples and Lee County attracts the bigger-buck residents, most of Port Charlotte’s main drags are made up of strip malls and big-box retailers. If you’re coming down from Tampa-St. Pete or up from Fort Myers, don’t expect a scenic drive in Charlotte County.
Like most Florida cities on the Gulf Coast, Port Charlotte is oriented toward the waterfront, and it’s there you’ll find restaurants and nightlife. Places like the Portside Tavern (3636 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte; 941/629-3055) and Patio 33 (33 Patio de Leon, Port Charlotte; 239/461-2727) feature DJs and drink promotions, while downtown hot spots like EnVie (2213 Main St., Port Charlotte; 239/337-0909) feature live music and Portofino (23241 Bayshore Rd., Port Charlotte; 941/743-2800) advertises both casual and upscale dining with views of the harbor. Nearby Punta Gorda and Fisherman’s Village features a downtown and somewhat more upscale nightlife scene as well.
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