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RIP, Chain of Lakes Park


Some sad news to pass along from Winter Haven: Chain of Lakes Park, former spring-training home of the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians, has been torn down–but the site will be redeveloped for youth baseball and tournaments.

Chain of Lakes Park opened in 1966 as the spring home of the Boston Red Sox, who trained there until 1992, departing for Fort Myers and City of Palms Park. The BoSox were replaced by the Cleveland Indians, who trained there until 2008 and a departure for the Cactus League and Goodyear Ballpark.

Here what we wrote in 2007.

“A 1993 renovation did nothing to diminish the ballpark’s mid-1960’s charm: the covered grandstand is perfectly proportioned, and if you wander a little around the grandstand’s small concourse you can easily see the other practice fields in the facility as well as Lake Lulu. While there’s a good amount of seating here, there’s not a lot of room for amenities: there’s a small concourse in the back of the grandstand and a small concourse near the souvenir shop down the third-base line.”

In recent years the ballpark has hosted youth and high-school baseball along with summer-collegiate Florida Collegiate Summer League teams.

In terms of atmosphere, Chain of Lakes Park embodied classic Florida, located on the shores of Lake Lulu and sitting down the road from classic Cypress Gardens. Today, this part of Winter Haven is more built up, especially along Cypress Gardens Boulevard, and Legoland now surrounds the bucolic Cypress Gardens site. And while possessing a lot of old Florida charm, the complex had some limitations: draining was poor, so it didn’t take a whole lot of rain to puddle up the training fields and walkways.

As noted, the complex will continue to host baseball: Winter Haven is spending $20 million to install four diamonds for youth-tournament play, along with amenities like batting cages, clubhouses and fan seating.

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