Sunday, March 06, 2011

Port St. Lucie & Beautiful Jupiter

After leaving Vero Beach and Dodgertown the other day, The African Queen and I headed down the eastern Florida coastline toward Palm Beach--our final destination--the legendary Breakers Hotel. Still being in a baseball mood, we decided to briefly stop by the spring training homes of The New York Mets, Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.

No games or practices were taking place at either facility so we roamed around the exteriors of the facilities taking in the sights.

Digital Domain Park in Port St.Lucie is located just off I-95 (50 minutes south of Viera) providing very easy access to The Mets Spring Home that up until this year was known as Tradition Field (The name of the development surrounding the grounds). The mostly brick ballpark with glass and steel is situated at the end of an industrial park less than 1/2 mile from an avenue lined with restaurants, stores and mini-malls. In fact, Port St.Lucie looked like a larger version of Viera, Florida.  The same movie theatre, Carrabba's Restaurant, Books-A-Million, etc. Almost identical in every way to Washington's Spring Training Home--just a bit bigger.

Directly in front of the main entrance to Digital Domain Park is a monument dedicated to those lost on September 11, 2011 at The World Trade Center site in New York City. The structure consists of actual pieces of steel from the World Trade Center.  A nice touch.
We thought Digital Domain Park was OK, but we have to watch a game inside to offer a final conclusion.

A judgement which never wavered from the very second we drove up to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. Located just a short drive east of I-95 (and 30 minutes south from Port St. Lucie, 80 minutes from Viera), directly across the street from the Florida Atlantic University and a residential neighborhood--the spring home of The Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals is GORGEOUS!!

Beautiful ballpark, lovely landscaping, first class clubhouses and practice fields (separate for each team). There was nothing not to like about Roger Dean Stadium and nearby Juno Beach. How upsetting to realize that The Montreal Expos and, in essence, Our Washington Nationals were removed from this incredible facility after the 2002 season to appease Jeffrey Loria's purchase of The Marlins, the sale of his Expos to MLB and the eventual debacle that ensued when Major League Baseball attempted to contract The Expos and Minnesota Twins. The Montreal Expos and The St. Louis Cardinals were the first two teams to share a spring facility. The Cards & Nats would still be together today if a more reasoned approach to the financial issues of The Expos and Twins had prevailed early in the 2000's.

We've only seen in person a handful of the spring training homes for Major League Teams--Viera (Nationals), Kissimmee (Astros), Lake Buena Vista (Braves), Port St. Lucie (Mets) and Jupiter (Marlins & Cardinals).

There is no question in our minds that Jupiter is the most beautiful of that group.  Just stunning.

Of course, Historic Dodgertown is in a League Of Its Own.

BTW: If you are wondering, Roger Dean is a local Chevrolet Dealer that sponsors the naming rights to The Marlins & Cardinals Ballpark in Jupiter.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


DND said...

Shame on you and your friends for the pillaging you did to the Expos'/ Nationals Bud Selig.

Pete said...

Much appreciate you guys for always taking me along for the ride each year!!!THANKS P.P

Mr. NATural said...

Nice piece of work, Nats320.

I attended the Nats' opener at Port Saint Lucie on Feb 28. A few impressions:

- It is a beautiful park. I liked it a lot more than the busy, visual-pollution-centric Mets' Citibank Park.

- The Mets' fans at Port Saint Lucy were really nice. Way nicer than the goons I ran into at Citibank Park last year. (Justin Maxwell told me he had to alert security because the Mets fans were throwing quarters at him when he was playing CF!)

- The park, Digital Domain Park, might be the cleanest professsional arena I've ever attended. It sparkled.

- The food at Digital Domain was way, way better than the generic stuff served at Space Coast Stadium. I had the BIGGEST slice or pizza of MY LIFE at DD Park, and it was delicious. Space Coast Stadium food is more like the food at a non-descript municipal airport.