Florida Auto Exchange Stadium – Dunedin Blue Jays
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Canada in Florida
Florida Auto Exchange Stadium opened in 1990. It is the home of the Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays and the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays since 1977. The ballpark is built on the site of Grant Field, which was the original home of the Jays.
The city of Dunedin and this location are the only home that the Blue Jays have ever had since their inception as a franchise in 1977.
While many teams have shifted spring training venues over the decades and in some cases moved back and forth between Florida and Arizona, Toronto’s relationship with Dunedin has been a constant and the Blue Jays are synonymous with this suburban bedroom community on the outskirts of St.Petersburg/Clearwater.
Food & Beverage 3
The food choices are your basic minor league items including pizza ($4.75 for pepperoni less for cheese), hamburger ($5.75), hot dogs ($3), chicken strip with fries ($7.50), nachos ($4.75), and pulled pork sandwiches ($6.50).
Coke products are $3-$5, and draft Budweisers are also $5.25. Additionally there are cans of Labatt, Corona, and Lanshark available ($5.75).
There are a few items that are interesting like frozen Minute Maid ($4.50) or a veggie burger ($5.50). What is also appreciated is the nod toward the team’s Canadian fans. There is poutine (fries covered with gravy and cheese) for $6.00, and maple/bacon flavored potato chips.
This ballpark is like many of the Florida League stadiums. It is rather bland. Nothing really stands out. But the place could use some renovations. The scoreboard is like a high school facility with no video. The seats are fixed, they don’t fold up/down and they face straight ahead and not turned toward the mound.
The bullpens for both teams are way down the lines or in the outfield. It is very difficult to see who is warming up. One nice aspect of this ballpark is that there is plenty of cover for those sunny day games.
There is nothing for the kids to do. The Jays should get a bouncy house or playground to help entertain the youngsters that have trouble sitting in a seat for nine innings.
Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is located within a residential neighborhood and adjacent to the Jays’ spring training practice facility. There are a couple of bars within a couple of blocks of the stadium. The bars are typical neighborhood bars and not tourist traps. Approximately a mile away from the park is downtown Dunedin. This area is bustling with shops, restaurants, and bars. It is a very nice area and parking is easy too.
The fans that show up and have a good time. You’ll find several fans with a scorebook intently watching the game and keeping track of every pitch. The fans know their team and are very friendly. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough fans to create much of an atmosphere at the typical game.
Getting to the park is easy. It is located on Douglas Avenue about a mile west of US-19. The stadium is well served with easily drivable boulevards to get you in and out. Public transportation is not an option. Parking is available on the stadium grounds but there isn’t a lot of it. Parking on the grounds is free so that is a good thing.
During spring training when the crowds are much larger, some of the homes surrounding the ballpark property sell spaces on their front lawns.
Return on Investment 3
The price of a ticket is $7 and you are able to move all over the ballpark to view the game from different areas since there are no reserved seats. This place is for the old school baseball people. If you are looking for all the modern entertainment options found at many ballparks today, then this is not the place for you.
The Canadian tilt that can be found at the ballpark is really enjoyable. Even the Canadian flag was next to the American Flag. Sadly though, they do not play O Canada before the game. During my visit, before the game they played Robin Sparkles-Let’s Go To The Mall (from the TV show How I Met Your Mother – Robin is from Canada and a former teen pop star).
The distances on the fences are in feet and meters. Also, they play the Toronto Blue Jays’ anthem and fight song, “OK Blue Jays” during the 7th inning stretch. The “Canadian” food, poutine and the maple/bacon potato chips are a nice touch.
The ballpark could be better with just a few tweaks (sans any renovations). Have some Canadian beers, more Canadian foods or maybe some fresh fish options (they are in Florida) and step up the condiments, at least add hot peppers. Try some more between innings contests or entertainment or something in the concourse area. Also, maybe conduct some renovation to allow some seating / viewing from the outfield area since you can’t currently do this.
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