|FLORIDA AUTO EXCHANGE STADIUM|
|Dimensions||335L, 380LC, 400C, 363RC, 325R|
|Ticket Prices||Box Seats, $30; Reserved, $20; Baseline, $20.|
|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 Spring Training: The Great White South
You don’t need to be a Toronto Blue Jays fan to appreciate a spring-training game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. It’s a place where fan/player interaction is at a premium, where a game is just a game and not just some huge marketing event. If you’re looking for a flashy time filled with huge crowds, Tiki bars, and fans lined up wall to wall, then Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is not for you.
Indeed, one of our favorite spring-training experiences is parking in downtown Dunedin, grabbing a late breakfast, and then walking down the Pinellas Trail to the ballpark early enough to score some autographs, watching a laid-back spring match, and then heading back to downtown Dunedin for Happy Hour. There’s no such thing as a bad spring-training experience, but some experiences are better than others.
The ballpark is always crowded but never uncomfortable, filled mostly with Canadians escaping the Great White North for the warmer climes of Florida. There’s cold Labatt Blue on tap, which is always a plus. (Expect a longer line for the Canadian delicacy: there are relatively few beer taps for a ballpark of this size.) And Dunedin is one of the hidden gems in the Tampa-St. Pete area, a refreshing respite from the hustle and bustle along the bay.
Just be warned that Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is really set up for families, not spring-training rowdies. The grassy berm attracts families chasing down their smaller children, while groups set up shop in the picnic areas. The atmosphere at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is probably the most casual in the Grapefruit League. Blue Jays have been known to chat with fans between innings – an act that’s become a no-no in the increasingly formalized spring training. And many of the fans in the stands are regulars: there’s a large Canadian contingent retuning annually to Dunedin, like the swallows to Capistrano.
In 2002 Dunedin spent $12 million on a new spring-training complex for the Blue Jays, which include new training facilities, offices, new hitting cages, and five full fields at the Cecil P. Englebert Recreational Complex. As a result, the Blue Jays signed a 15-year lease to stay in Dunedin, as well as committing the Dunedin Blue Jays (Class A; Florida State League) to the ballpark as well.
The seating area is bisected by a walkway. Box seats are on the field side of the walkway, while bleachers are on the other side.
Spring Training History
The Toronto Blue Jays have been training at this site since 1977, first at Grant Field and then at Dunedin Stadium.
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