Saturday I journeyed an hour north to see the Baltimore Orioles play the Boston Red Sox during spring training play. What I ended up actually doing was explore the renovated Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, spring training home to the Orioles. It’s a fabulous stadium and it wasn’t my intent to spend so much time discovering its nooks and crannies but since I purchased an “affordable” ticket (yeah, I’m cheap and picked up a Standing Room Only ticket for $10 plus service charge) and couldn’t find a comfortable vantage point to watch the game, I spent my time wandering.
About Standing Room Only Tickets
Yes, these are the most affordable on Ed Smith’s spring training menu and locations to stand include the picnic areas and second level. However, when I arrived, the picnic area by first base was closed off for a private function (it was also adjacent to the Orioles’ bullpen) and I was too short to see over the people on the second level. I found an area beyond the behind the Left Field Pavilion Seating but it was just standing there with nothing to lean on.
I know I’m jaded about the Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, but during Tampa Bay Rays spring training, it’s nice having the option of sitting on the grass berms, sitting near the Tiki bar or standing along the railing. I didn’t find that at Ed Smith Stadium. If some comfort is an option, pay the extra few bucks for Left Field Pavilion Seating. You’ll have what looks like comfortable bar seating in a high-top, cushioned chair and have a bar to lean against.
The seat is indicated with what looked like a label printed off a laser computer. I bet the interns who have to print those off pray for as little rain as possible during the season.
Cool Things I Discovered in Ed Smith Stadium
Although I was upset, I wasn’t heartbroken I didn’t have a great vantage point to watch the game. I’m not much of a baseball fan but enjoy the energy of spring training. Here are a few of the cool things I discovered in Ed Smith Stadium Saturday.
Orioles Love their Signs - Signs were a plenty throughout the stadium but they were fun. Some indicate to watch for fly balls and use The Bird (Orioles mascot) in the sign dodging balls; another indicates Sarasota is a central spring training vacation destination and shows where other Grapefruit League teams train in the Sunshine State; my favorite, though, was in the restroom. It warned about reclaimed water and pictured an Oriole in the toilet!
Largest Bobblehead I’ve Ever Seen – The private party eventually closed up after a couple of innings so I spent some time over by the first base picnic area and noticed the large The Bird statute. “Cute,” I thought. Until one of the stadium staff touched The Bird’s head and it bobbled! It’s quite possibly the largest bobblehead I’ve ever seen.
Need Something to Do After the Game? Ask! – The Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau has an information kiosk set up within the stadium (inside near the deli). The informed volunteers can offer tips on what to do, where to dine and where to stay.
Man Can Survive on Beer and Crab Cakes, and an ATM - The “in thing” these days is for a signature stadium food and I’m guessing the crab cake sandwich is it. That and the Esskay hot dogs (or suppose “franks” is proper) seemed to be it. After all, both are synonymous with Baltimore and Maryland. As for beer, there were the typical beer carts but inside is the World of Beers serving up all kinds of domestic and international brews including craft and specialty beers. Things aren’t cheep within stadium walls. The crab cake sandwich runs $9 and beer runs between $6.50 and $6.75 but there’s an ATM on site (and I can only imagine the service fee to use it).
Recycling Can Be Fun - The recycling bins at Ed Smith Stadium are fun – they’re orange and black and topped with an over-sized Orioles helmet. Unfortunately, not everyone has learned how to recycle. Following the game I saw hundreds of empty plastic bottles littering the stadium and the cleaning crew had swept in to quickly pick up after those who don’t know better.
Most Important Tip for Visiting Ed Smith Stadium for Spring Training
Arrive Early! It took me about 30 minutes to find a parking spot. As soon as you see people parking, find a spot. Free spots within walking distance are attainable. Some private places near the stadium were charging $20 to park. Insane! Arrive early for the $8 stadium parking.
If you do go with the Standing Room Only ticket, arriving early will help ensure a spot to view the game.
Maybe there will be another time for me to actually see a full Orioles spring training game in Sarasota but don’t see it in my future. Tuesday I’m off to a Rays’ game, although I’ll be working most of it.
What’s your impression of the renovated Ed Smith Stadium?