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As the title might imply, this is a Spring Training thread. Not about the players, non-roster invites and positional battles, but about the actual activity itself. Readers with Florida experience are welcomed to join in with advice and anyone with questions about attending exhibition baseball is welcomed to pose them here -- odds are, someone can answer them!

So if you have questions about Spring Training in Dunedin (or other Florida locations), questions about the area or if you just want to know the best way to get there and simply enjoy baseball, read on.

Let's start off with some questions posed by Jacko:

I'd like to go down for a week and split a beachfront condo with a bunch of people to help keep accomodation costs down.

(a) who's interested in doing this?
(b) does anyone know a good place to research accomodation in or around Dunedin/Clearwater?
(c) what is the best week to go? The earlier you go, the more kids you get to see play in the games...

My quick advice: Try for a condo...go early if you can, games in late March are filled with MLB regulars, which isn't as fun...and again, for any GTAers, fly Southwest out of Buffalo. Quite simply, it's very, very good.

Perhaps Bauxites have other questions. Do you want to know how to find Knology Park, for example?* Please, feel free to ask -- and answer -- as many questions as you want. Let's kick off what should be a great 2006 season with some fun discussion about the 2006 preseason.

Thanks to Da Box's indefatigable Mick Doherty for the headline and to Jacko and Smithers for inspiring the article.

*It is impossible to find Knology Park.

Springing Into Florida With The Jays | 25 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Smithers - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 12:16 AM EST (#137049) #
First off, thanks for creating a thread for this - I asked this in the BWS thread earlier (technically before Jacko but I'm not picky) and I'll repeat them here:

-Where to stay around Dunedin? Any hotels that come highly recommended with nice beaches and nightlife around? The condo idea could lower costs for sure. A rental car is a necessity I imagine.

-Other stadiums worth visiting near Tampa (aside from the Orlando WBC venue)?

-Fool-proof directions for getting to Knology? I have to say that the website is making my life a lot easier, and almost makes me think that I could find the place myself without ever having stepped foot in Florida.
VBF - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 12:21 AM EST (#137050) #
I will be in Dunedin the third week of February by strange luck. Unfortunately I can't stay for the real fun. Two questions:

-Is there any way of knowing when exactly intraquad games will be played?
-I can watch batting practice for hours. Is it possible to just sit and watch BP/warmups when players report?

Stupid Question: Since it's virtually impossible to get a straight answer from anyone at Ryerson University, which week is actually Reading Week?

I'll hang up and listen to your responses.
Geoff - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 12:38 AM EST (#137052) #
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees grabbed center fielder Johnny Damon away from the rival Boston Red Sox, reaching a preliminary agreement Tuesday night on a $52 million, four-year contract.

The Yankees don't ever seem to break their bank, so it's moot to think they'll ever go away from contending when they stuff their holes with cash.

Anyone hyped up enough for a big battle of the AL East and seeing the Jays for spring training?
Jacko - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 01:01 AM EST (#137055) #
If memory serves, Knology park is very easy to find. And yes, Google Maps makes it easy.

I'm going to start doing my own research on Rentalo and Craigslist to see what I can dig up. If I find something interesting, I'll start looking to nail down dates.

Jacko - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 01:19 AM EST (#137060) #
Parks that are nearby:

Phillies (Clearwater)
Yankees (Tampa)
D-Rays (St. Pete)

In the vicinity:

Pirates (Bradenton)
Reds (Sarasota)
Tigers (Lakeland)
Indians (Winter Haven)

A bit of a haul, but doable:

Braves (Orlando, but sellouts are common)
Astros (Kissimee)
Red Sox (Fort Myers)
Twins (Fort Myers)
Rob - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 01:20 AM EST (#137061) #
If memory serves, Knology park is very easy to find. memory serves me differently. It's always been hidden in that residential area. No signs anywhere.

Jordan, do you have any thoughts on this?
"...I will simply say, to the good burghers of Dunedin: since your town has only one significant industry, could you maybe post a few friggin’ signs saying, “This way to the industry”? Would this kill you? And to any members of the Blue Jays front office who’ve stumbled across this: we are most certainly not the first Canadian tourists to criss-cross Greater Dunedin in growing frustration, looking for the damn ballpark. Thank you."

And the story has been updated to reflect your contributions, Smithers. Now only if you could tell me who that carbon blob is in Sector 7-G...

A - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 02:05 AM EST (#137064) #
Beach-front condo? Dude, if you're going for the baseball save the millions of dollars and get a (relatively) cheap hotel room.

I've been down to Dunedin three times now and not once -- not a single solitary second -- have I set foot on a beach. The closest I got was a park down the street from the stadium that has a nice view of the water. I ate lunch there and went back to the ballpark.

As far as a decent and fairly inexpensive place...There's a small motel called the Aloha. The room I got had a kitchenette so we didn't have to eat out every meal (Dunedin's pretty touristy and has touristy-like prices to show for it). I couldn't tell you what it cost off the top of my head but my dad was pretty happy with the price.

Hidden secret: the library next door to the stadium. It has free internet access so after each game you can run over there and give us chumps up north the firsthand perspective. It's also nicely air conditioned.

Someone also mentioned something about a night life in Dunedin...You must have the wrong town in mind because the words night and life don't show up together anywhere in the place. Seriously, there are a couple bars but if they got any livelier a funeral might break out.

Also...word to the wise: carry sun block with you. Everywhere. Always. I forgot to put it on my legs during the first game. Couldn't wear long pants for three days after that. Bradenton (Pirates) is especially bad for it if you're sitting in the bleechers. Btw, for that stadium, it's worth investing in a pricier seat -- the bleachers don't have a back to the seat and the benches are aluminum. Not a recipe for comfort.

Legends Field: I suppose if you've never been you might decide to go once. But it's expensive and, unlike every other team that I've been to see, you have almost zero access to the players and the way the seats are, you feel like you're at an MLB stadium because you're (comparitively) a mile away from the action in the first row.

On BP/Pre-game: Definately worth it. If you're an autograph seeker you can get them as they come out to warm up and as they finish. As they finish is a gold mine but there are alot more people there and the less out-going players tend to stay away at that point. But going just for BP itself and no autographs is definately worth it. And, if the rules haven't changed, you don't actually need a ticket between something like 10AM and 11:30AM, you can just walk in, take a seat and watch balls fly.

I think that's my entire $0.02 on Spring Training.

...VBF, what are you taking at RyeHigh?
H Winfield Teut - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 09:18 AM EST (#137071) #
When I went to Dunedin last year, had no idea where the park was. We stopped at the Ace Hardware store, I asked where Knology park was, he said, "what's that?" I told him that was where the baseball field was. He said "which one." I said for the Blue Jays. He went and asked 3 other workers before he found one that knew where it was. But, once I found it, for those who have never been there, the stadium personnel are amazing, and the park is fun.
Elijah - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 09:28 AM EST (#137074) #
I went to ST in 1999 but as far as I can tell, not much has changed except the Rangers and the Royals have moved to Arizona.

Getting to Knology Park was never difficult for me and I saw about six games there. I stayed in the St. Pete area and I just took US-19 north until I got to Sunset Point Rd and made a left. When I got to Douglas, I made a right. The ballpark is not that hard to miss - it's on the right side.

Clearwater and St. Pete are fine to watch games because tickets will probably always be available. You'll see the Phillies training ground on US-19 as you drive north to Dunedin. D-Rays games are rarely sellouts but parking is a bit of a pain since Al Lang Field is literally across the street from the Trop. You may as well be parking for the regular season game.

Legends Field is nice because they have a mini-version of the monuments and the retired numbers but the games are overpriced and pretty much all sold out. And yes, I also sat quite far away from the action such that I felt I was at a major league park.

I did a three-week tour in '99 and saw all 20 teams that were training in Florida. In terms of proximity to players, I really liked Holman Field at Vero Beach. There are no dugouts and you can sit right behind the players. It's also close to the I-95. But that's if you have time to drive across the state. The Twins play in a nice park and I had a good time in Bradenton and Sarasota as well. If you're already going to Disney World, then you can watch the Braves games but those tickets are expensive and you have to deal with Disney traffic. If you stay in Dunedin, Fort Myers is probably about 1.5-2 hours away - not too bad.

I'd recommend looking for potential double headers. For example, you can look for an afternoon game in Kissimmee for the Astros and an evening game at Disney World and the Braves. Or a day game in Bradenton and a night game in Sarasota. Or a Fort Myers double header. It's actually kind of fun. Just keep in mind that if you want to see the Yankees, Red Sox or Braves (at Disney), you'll probably have to get tickets in advance. Otherwise, you can get them at the door.
Jordan - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 09:40 AM EST (#137077) #
I don't have much to add to the article Rob linked. I will say that water or lemonade, not beer, is the wiser in-game drink of choice for Canadian spectators recently arrived from wintry conditions. It is really, really hot sitting in the Florida sun for two hours. Sunscreen and a baseball cap are requisites.
Jacko - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 10:02 AM EST (#137083) #
Beach-front condo? Dude, if you're going for the baseball save the millions of dollars and get a (relatively) cheap hotel room.

Seems like a bit of a waste to go all the way to Florida and then not stay on or near the beach. How much did the Aloha charge for a room?

From what I can tell, it's possible to get a 2BR beachfront condo starting at around $1500. Split that 4 ways and it's down to a very reasonable $375 pp. And since you have a fully equipped kitchen, you don't need to eat out much (if at all). Certainly cheaper than staying at the local Hampton Inn during peak season.

Using the public library for internet access is an excellent idea -- I don't like travelling with my laptop on vacation (it's just another thing that can be lost or stolen).

A - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 11:26 AM EST (#137109) #
Jacko, that's a bit better than the $2500/wk price that I saw the last time I was looking at condos to rent down there. IIRC, the Aloha was no more than $1000/wk for a three person room.

I'm not sure what week you're looking for but if you can avoid the public school's March Break (which my brother couldn't) you're probably looking at some savings. Though if you're not a stingy university student, you might also be able to over look the price element to a certain extent.
VBF - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 12:35 PM EST (#137118) #
A, I'm at Ryerson for Business Management. It's a cool university and I have to say it's growing on me.

As for Spring Training, I remember a year or so ago, the Jays had some sort of ticket package you could buy which included a BBQ, autograph session and tickets to a few games. I'd check the Dunedin Jays site to see if they're running anything like that.

Tha Blue Jays Fan Club is also going as well via tour bus.

It includes:

-Round trip transportation on one of Great Canadian's award winning, modern, state-of-the-art luxury coaches
-Reserved seats for 3 Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training Games
-Tour directed by Howie Hupp, a former professional pitcher with the Cleveland Indians organization
-11 nights accommodation
-1 full breakfast
-3 continental breakfasts
-Transportation to shops, beaches and optional attractions.

Not sure what the cost was, I heard it was alot. The Fan Club phone line is 416-778-5601. Not a bad deal if you hate planning things and have some money on you. Definitely not the least expensive way though.
Tenobia - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 01:29 PM EST (#137120) #
Here's a link to the spring training schedule including split squad games.

The first week looks interesting and it's early enough to avoid March break.

I went to spring training in 2000 and stayed in St Pete's. If you're looking for night life, the Tampa/St Pete's area is far livelier than Dunedin, but we found it too far away from the ball park (which we had no trouble finding).

And as mentioned by others, sunscreen and a hat are essential.
Twilight - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 03:34 PM EST (#137138) #
Anyone remember what the tickets to these events roughly cost? My grandpa and I might go down there and catch some baseball action.
Rob - Wednesday, December 21 2005 @ 04:07 PM EST (#137142) #
It costs about $15-20 US for the best seats, but you can get in for about 10 at most parks. Outfield seats (i.e., the grass) are a real bargain, too.
cptfat - Thursday, December 22 2005 @ 01:06 AM EST (#137165) #

Knology Park is easy to find. US19 runs north and south through Clearwater. Find 580 which is Main ST. Countryside Mall is also on this street. Drive east until your one block from hitting water(a dead end). Turn left on the street before you hit the t stop. You are now on Douglas Ave. and if you miss the park you are lost and not too smart
Rob - Thursday, December 22 2005 @ 01:54 AM EST (#137166) #
I suppose I should clarify my Knology Park comments.

If you have a map and/or clear directions, you will be able to find it without any problems. The difficulties arise from the fact that there are very few signs around the area saying "this way to the ballpark." You'd figure with little else to offer on the way of entertainment, Dunedin would tell you where to go for some baseball...

You are now on Douglas Ave. and if you miss the park you are lost and not too smart kidding. Even the best directions can't help anyone who is on Douglas and can't see this.

jim854 - Thursday, December 22 2005 @ 09:58 AM EST (#137180) #
Just for your info - the lower bowl seats for the Boston & New York games in Dunedin during spring training are already gone & if you want to go to one of these games you will have to act quickly. These tickets usually sell out in January. I attend all the games in Dunedin & it ticks me off when there are so many non-Jays fans in the stands. If you call the box office ask for Brandon, the manager & he will do his best to help you.
This is a community service announcement.
VBF - Thursday, December 22 2005 @ 12:07 PM EST (#137195) #
As long as the Knology Park Marketing guys don't sell Yankee and Red sox flags, I'm OK with it. :)
Kingsley Zissou - Thursday, December 22 2005 @ 01:21 PM EST (#137205) #
I've been to Dunedin's my $0.02:

- I stayed in Clearwater both times. There are a slew of cheap hotel/motels all along US-19N in Clearwater. I think we paid $59 a night last year - you can't beat that. We were also within walking distance to the Phillies complex, a WalMart, a Liquor Store, and a handful of great BBQ restaurants.

- If you're drinking beer at Knology Park, they serve 3 types. Corona, served under the 1st base bleachers, Bud/Bud Light, served at all the concession stands, and, most importantly, BLUE, imported from Canada, served under the 3rd base stands. Definitely pay the extra 50 cents or whatever it costs to get the Blue. I can't believe how much they water down the American beer that's on tap (even more than American beer is usually water).

- If you're eating at the park, definitely don't go to the concession stands. There is a picnic/BBQ area under a tent under the 3rd base side of the stands. The sausages and burgers are great, but you HAVE to get the pulled pork sandwiches. The food in the tents is partially for charity, and is all served by the sweetest old ladies and gents you'll ever meet.

- There is, as someone already mentioned, literally ZERO night life in Dunedin OR Clearwater. Your best bet is to hop on the causeway and head over to Tampa. The old section of Tamps is called YBOR CITY, and it's a large strip of bars in the old quarter. They try to pawn it off as basically a Bourbon Street junior-version...good times all around. Lots of VERY scantilly-clad young ladies.

- If you're going with a bunch of guys, invariably someone will, at some point, mention hitting a ripper joint. I can't tell you how bad an idea that is. For those of us spoiled by Ontario lax dancing laws, strip joints in Florida are a sad, sad state of affairs. I won't go into much details on a family site like this, but of the 3 places we tried, the first didn't serve alcohol, and didn't allow bottoms-off, the second place was like something out of a bad movie, and the third...well, I can't even talk about it.

- Some of the other parks in the area are great. We drove down to Fort Myers to see the's only about 2 hours, and it's a very nice complex. Very close proximity to the field. Legends Fields is a joke...avoid at all costs. The best of the bunch is the Devil Rays' stadium, which used to be called Al Lang Field (don't know the new, uglier corporate name). It sits right on Tampa Bay, and from theh stands you have a beautiful view of the marina and the boats going by. It's an older stadium, and you sit very close as a result.

- If you're a ball-hound, I recommend going around behind the LF fence after the game. Last year we hopped the fence between the stadium and the grade school - there's a strip of land in-between where home run balls go to die. After a day of BP, a game, and after-game BP, it's a treasure trove. We literally could have come home with 10 balls each. They're just sitting there, like ripe pumpkins.

- Gates to the stadium open pretty early - we were always able to catch BP for both teams before the game. After the game, players stick around for extra BP, and the usher staff never says a peep - we sat there for 2 hours after one game watching ODog and Hill stroke the ball, and Scotty Schoeneweis play on the basepaths with his kids. I love the atmosphere of Spring ball.

- We drove last year - the drive took about 22 hours, and we did it straight through. If you have 2 or more drivers, it's actually an easy, fast drive, and quite beautiful through the mountains.

- The beaches are all quite nice, but if you're going, make sure you go to Clearwater Beach. There's a nice strip of restaurants and bars. Plus, that's where all the bikinis go to hang me.

I hope that's some extra insights on top of what was already said. If anyone has further questions, feel free to ask.

I REALLY wish I could say I was going down this year to join some of you guys.

Kingsley Zissou - Thursday, December 22 2005 @ 01:24 PM EST (#137207) #
When I'm talking ball-hounding, I mean at Knology, not Al Lang. I re-read my post, and it might be confusing.
Jacko - Thursday, December 22 2005 @ 02:38 PM EST (#137219) #
quick update -- the week I'm leaning towards is March 11-18...

Mr. Zissou, thanks for all of the tips (especially about getting advancet tickets for Yankees and Red Sox games!)

cptfat - Thursday, December 22 2005 @ 10:10 PM EST (#137283) #

No nightlife in Dunedin/Clearwater. If you go to Clearwater beach there is plenty to do. Also, there are great place between the area and Tampa. You don't have to go to YBor to have a good time!
Smithers - Friday, February 24 2006 @ 10:49 AM EST (#141479) #
I couldn't think of a more appropriate thread than this to do a little gloating - just this morning I've ordered tickets to 6 Blue Jays spring training games in Dunedin! Colour me excited, I'll be there for 6 of the first 7 home games (minus the sold-out Yankees game). I feel like I'm well prepared for the spring training experience thanks to the excellent Spring Training Diaries and useful tips that have been posted on this website.

One question, anyone else going to be in the area and at the games from approximately March 2 to March 10? Hope to see you there - or at the very least, you'll be able to see me on TV at the games.
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