With MLB Spring Training in full gear, it is time to shine some spotlight on the newest complex that has made its debut down in Florida. The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros have joined together to share the newest facility down in West Palm Beach, Florida. The name of the new stadium/complex is The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, and it is most certainly worth a visit.
Prior to this year, the Astros trained in Kissimmee, while the Nats were located in Melbourne. In Kissimmee, the Astros only really had the Atlanta Braves nearby, who are located in Disney. As for the Nationals, Space Coast Stadium was on the Eastern portion of the state, but still a ways North of the teams located on the Gold Coast. So the two clubs wanted to be in a location that was closer to other teams, thus reducing their travel time for Spring games. The result, their move to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which puts them both in the West Palm area. Or in other words, they are now in close proximity to the St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins and New York Mets.
So the two clubs wanted to be in a location that was closer to other teams, thus reducing their travel time for Spring games. The result, their move to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which puts them both in the West Palm area. Or in other words, they are now in close proximity to the St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins and New York Mets.
I was lucky enough to attend a game here this past Saturday, March 4th, where the Astros hosted the Mets. This was just the fifth game to be played in the ballpark, so I thought it would be nice to share my initial impressions. If you are planning on attending a game here, or want a general idea of what the new complex is all about, I hope the following information comes in handy.
For starters, it is an absolutely beautiful complex. Upon driving in, you can see the giant Astros and Nationals logo statues on the grounds. And as I learned, it appears these giant logos are placed on the sides of the facility where each team trains. Where we parked, the entrance was near the practice fields for the Nats. So as we walked through the first gate, there was a Nats logo on a brick wall before walking past all of the side fields.
There were a handful of players off on some of the backfields further away from the entrance. While most people were focused on getting to the main entrance for the game, it did appear that the gate was open to walk down in the direction of the field that the players were practicing on. I am not 100 percent positive on that, as I was intent on getting to my seat, but none the less, walking past these fields was certainly a nice welcome.
While most people were focused on getting to the main entrance for the game, it did appear that the gate was open to walk down in the direction of the field that the players were practicing on. I am not 100 percent positive on that, as I was intent on getting to my seat, but none the less, walking past these fields was certainly a nice welcome.
The main attraction about the ballpark is the fact that it clearly puts baseball first. It is surprisingly small, with only one deck. You can see the concourse from any seat, as it is not hidden like other spring ballparks. Because of this, you can feel close to the action no matter where you are. And there are no obnoxious sound effects on foul balls or loud music to take away from the sounds of the game. Once you arrive at your seat, there is very little to take away your attention away from the game, which I personally love about it.
Concessions were a mixed bag in my eyes. The main concessions stands (the ones that offer the typical ballpark fair), were limited in that I only recall two total, with one along each baseline. There were more specialty (sausage, burgers, funnel cakes, etc) type of stands down in each outfield corner. But these stands were on the pricier side, with many of these things hitting the 12 dollar range (for reference, Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for the Yankees has similar fare for around 10). The hot dogs were pretty tasty, as they certainly hit the spot for anyone looking to enjoy the typical day at a game.
There is a main store down the third base line near the main entrance. They had a handful of nicer looking t-shirts, but they will run you around 30 to 40 bucks a piece. There was nothing that made the store stand out in comparison to others. Nothing wrong with that. There are also a few smaller stands for merchandise if you walk along the outfield.
Overlooking the bullpens may have been my favorite part of this park. As I took my walk around, I stopped above the bullpen where the Mets pitchers were out in right field(where the Nats would be when they are home). Standing above the pen I felt really close and could have stood there all day, while still being able to look over the entire field. It is certainly a great picture spot. Then as you continue along, you pass the outfield berm (I could easily see bringing a towel and enjoying the game out there), with some comfy looking chairs at the top near the scoreboard. Once you reach
Then as you continue along, you pass the outfield berm (I could easily see bringing a towel and enjoying the game out there), with some comfy looking chairs at the top near the scoreboard. Once you reach left field, you could overlook the Astros pen just like the other one, although I did feel closer to the action with the one in right.
The biggest knock I have on the complex would be the parking. Now, the walk from the spot we had was not terrible to reach the side fields. But the organization of the people in charge of running the parking was not very good. There were multiple lines and people coming from several directions, leading to plenty of confusion.
But like I said, this was only game five. So they are obviously still learning, so I will not knock them too bad. The construction is still not done with their parking, as it looked like there will be more parking in the future. They were on a deadline to get this park open this season, so they simply needed to have something ready. I have hope for progress in this aspect of the complex in future years.
There did seem to be a side road that had an entrance/exit that was not off of Haverhill Road (main road we took in). It seemed like not many people knew about this side road (did not catch the name) in terms of entering. While the wait on Haverhill was a bit lengthy, it looked like the line coming in this other road was minimal. Exiting here also seemed to speed things up greatly, especially when staying to the end of the game.
Overall, there were only a few other minor kinks that were also likely a result of a speeded up timeline with the construction. Bathrooms seemed few and far between, meaning the lines tended to build up a little bit more than you would expect. When trying to buy a sausage sandwich, the computer system was having a glitch (which resulted in me passing in favor of a hot dog in one of the main concessions). But outside of that, I have zero major complaints with this complex.
So there you have it folks. If you are looking for a nice, peaceful day at the ballpark, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is certainly a great spot to stop. There is nothing special about it, but that is what makes it so nice. No need to worry about loud music or annoying sound effects. They keep it to baseball, which is what I like. Sure there are still some minor kinks to work out, such as the parking organization, but those will come in time. It is definitely a park I would go back to again next season if I am lucky enough to make it down to Florida again.