Toronto Blue Jays 2014 Spring Training – If You Go …

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FLORIDA AUTO EXCHANGE STADIUM
Capacity 5,491
Year Opened 1990
Dimensions 335L, 380LC, 400C, 363RC, 325R
Surface Grass
Local Airport Tampa
Ticket Prices To be announced
Season Ticket Prices To be announced
Tickets on Sale Now
Ticket Line 888/525-5297, 727/733-0429
Ticket Web Site bluejays.com
Address 373 Douglas Av., Dunedin.
Directions Take Hwy. 19 north from St. Petersburg, take Sunset Point Road (Route 588) west for two miles, and then head north on Douglas Avenue for a half mile.

Toronto Blue Jays 2014 Spring Training: If You Go …

Dunedin is actually one of the oldest cities in Florida and for a time was a major seaport in the area. Today, the area is better known for its beaches and its proximity to Tampa/St. Petersburg. If you’re craving some rays, you should check out Caladesi Island, which has been called one of the top 10 beaches in the United States. Also worth checking out is Honeymoon Island, which was settled in the 1930s as a honeymoon resort and is now a state park.

Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is a mile or so south of downtown Dunedin, which features small shops and restaurants. Chances are you’re going to be thirsty before or after the game, and there are a few joints in downtown Dunedin worth a visit; the folks in Dunedin apparently appreciate a snort now and again, because downtown is crawling with bars.

In fact, one of our favorite spring-training experiences is to park in downtown Dunedin, have a nice brunch at one of the many dining establishments, and then walk down the Pinellas Trail south to the ballpark. It’s only a mile, and it saves you from the crowds fighting over the few parking spots outside the ballpark. (On weekends you can park downtown without worrying about a time limit in the conveniently located parking lot.) Our personal favorite for brunch on the weekend: Café Alfresco, located right on the Pinellas Trail where it intersects Main Street in downtown Dunedin. We’re fans of the Crab Cakes Benedict, but pastries and espresso drinks are also on the menu. Sit on the covered patio if it’s a nice day. Café Alfresco, 344 Main St., Dunedin; 727/736-4299; cafealfrescoonline.com.

Dunedin Stadium

After the game, we drop by the Iris Restaurant (234 Douglas Av., Dunedin; 727/734-0779; irisfamilyrestaurant.com) for a piece of goober (peanut-butter) pie. And save room for a cocktail at another downtown establishment. That seems to be the specialty in downtown establishments.

Beer lovers will appreciate Dunedin Brewery, which brews a wide variety of beers on site. Recommended: the Piper Pale Ale, the Highland Games Ale and the Leonard Croons Old Mean Stout, although they all may not be on tap when you visit: not all the selections are available year-round. There’s also a limited food menu and live music on the weekends. Bonus: the brewpub is within walking distance of the ballpark, on the same street – Douglas Avenue. Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Av., Dunedin; 727/736-0606; dunedinbrewery.com.

Where to Stay: Because of the many teams that train in the Tampa area, you won’t need to be staying too close to the stadium. Within a mile of the stadium are the Holiday Inn Clearwater and Best Western Yacht Harbor Inn and Suites, and there are several affordable hotels in Clearwater (Best Western Seastone Resort, Best Western Clearwater Centra, Radisson Suite Resort Sand Key, Hampton Inn Clearwater). But you could very easily stay in Tampa or St. Pete.

Flying In: Tampa International Airport is obviously the closest airport to Dunedin and the most convenient. It’s not the biggest airport in the world and is easy to navigate. All the major airlines fly into Tampa.

You may also want to consider flying into Orlando and then driving to Tampa if the fare to Orlando is significantly cheaper. The drive is 79 miles and takes an hour and a half on I-4 — which is not the best freeway in the world — but if you can save $100 or so on your air fares, the drive will be worth it.

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