Author Topic: Grapefruit League Parks -- Champion Stadium (Braves, Kissimmee, FL)  (Read 440 times)

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Online dcpatti

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I wasn't sure if this should just get posted in the general Out of Town Ballparks thread or if I should make a separate thread for each ballpark or what, so Mods please reorganize or link as you see fit.

All sorts of details about Champion Stadium, the current spring training home of the Barves. It is inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Disney World. The rest of the complex has event space and indoor sports facilities.  The signage is not great but once you get onto the complex itself, you can see the ballpark pretty clearly.  Disney owns and operates the whole complex including the ballpark concessions.  The staff is very nice and helpful but almost creepy in that Disney Super Friendly way.

Parking: free, plentiful, on paved lots but quite a far distance from the ballpark. I did see some golf carts driving some elderly folks back and forth.  There is a dedicated Uber/Lyft/Taxi pickup point right in front of the entrance.

We stayed at the Radisson on Apopka Vineland Road, just off of I-4. I think there are a lot better choices around the Disney area and probably won't stay there again. It wasn't downright horrible but I was still pretty glad to leave.
 





Architecturally it's beautiful. Spanish mission style design that works very well in central Florida. The concourse is industrial and fugly.  There are concessions on both the concourse-facing side and the field-facing side of the lower level and also on the concourse-facing side of the upper level.  Nice field with a huge berm. The leg room is tight in the seats. Some seats on the upper level are bleachers (mostly the ones past the bases towards the outfield).






There is very little shade here. The only seats that get shade for the duration of a 1:00 game are the back 3 rows of the lower level sections. The ushers will allow you to stand behind the last row, in what's officially the ADA spots, provided someone does not legitimately need them, but they police the seats pretty strictly, so the chances of moving into a shady seat mid-game are low.  The upper deck is a post-apocalyptic hellscape where the sun is personally trying to kill you (and it was only around 80* when we were there).    On the plus side, I'm told there are fireworks after night games, so choose your game or your seat wisely.









Food options: pretty generic hot dog/chicken sandwich type things. We had  a huge breakfast so we just picked at our friend's french fries. One outside food item is permitted per person, as is one sealed non-alcoholic beverage (20 ounce limit I believe)

Beer options: not a huge array but reasonable for a spring training ballpark.  Bud/Bud Light, Yeungling, and Terrapin at most stands, Cigar City here and there.  Big beers are $14 (!!!) but you can take the cup back to any of the concessions for a refill for $8. An $8 Terrapin is a good deal (i think it was a 14 ounce but might have been 16).  There are beer vendors in the stands too with the usual bud/light type stuff. They don't take tips, which is weird.  There's a massive ESPN Zone restaurant right across the plaza that does pre/post game drink specials and has about 20 taps.
 
Ticket prices: honestly they're pretty high-- $50+ for lower level and we paid $33 for section 208 (top level past 1B) on an early bird sale.  There were TONS of tickets on Stub Hub on the day we went, as low as $6 for lower level. 

Bonus tip: If you're in Orlando and your schedule allows, go out to Winter Park for a tapas dinner at Bulla.  They make this dish that is basically homemade potato chips, proscuitto, potato puree and a poached egg, all mixed up, that sounds nasty but is seriously one of the most delicious things I've eaten in a long time, and their entire drinks menu is half price till 7pm.

Online dcpatti

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Port St Lucie is about 40 minutes' drive from the Nats spring training park in West Palm, and about 90 minutes from Kissimmee. It's a squat concrete stadium that reminds me of the 1970's multi-purpose stadiums. Concrete everywhere. But much nicer from inside than outside.

Parking: $10 for gravel/grass paid when you get there, or you can get paved parking for a higher price, booked in advance.  Uber/Lyft/taxi are hard to get around there.  There is basically one main road in and out of Port St Lucie and up to the stadium, so be prepared for traffic jams and crappy drivers who like to sneak up on the shoulder rather than waiting their turn like everyone else.

Hotels:  There doesn't seem to be any hotel within walking distance. In all honesty, there doesn't seem to be much reason to stay actually in Port St Lucie; it's a generic suburb and while I'm sure it's a lovely place, there's just not much for a visitor to do there.




Inside: the concourse is boring and claustrophobic but the seating is quite comfortable. It feels less cramped than some other stadiums (Roger Dean I'm looking at you) and there is blissful beautiful shade everywhere.  If you pick any second level seat in sections between 206 and 207 (their numbering is weird so this is actually about 7 sections) or any lower level seat between 102-107, you'll have good shade for the duration. Just use a map when you do this because their numbering is weird. 106 is not between 102 and 107 for example.

There are some abbreviated rows where the access portals are, so if you are anti social like I am, look for something like 205 row L which has 3  seats in it. It's like having a private suite w00t.





Good sight lines and a nice breeze from pretty much everywhere. The field is one of the best. Very green and smooth, nicely manicured.





This stadium has a shorter  infield warning track than some of the others, so it's very good for taking pictures that seem super close up even if you're not on the lower level.

Food: nothing outside allowed in (not even water).  They have the standard burger/hot dog type stuff.  $6 pepperoni pizza slice that is as big as your head and pretty tasty (although the crust is definitely more Florida than NY). The funnel cakes are really really really good.

Beer: Bud/Bud Light everywhere. None of the concessions on the concourse have anything other than Bud and Bud Light. If you're lucky, the beer guy in your section might have some Pacifico or Negro Modelo.  I hear there is a good selection in the LF Tiki Bar but I couldn't be bothered to walk all the way  down there to find out (we had enjoyed the half price wine at Bulla in Winter Park the night before...)  At least the bud is cheap(ish)  at $7.50 for a 12-ouncer.

Ticket pricing: a relative bargain. We paid $20 (face value) for the lower part of Sec 205.  The highest priced ticket is $30.

High Point of the Day: Max making Tebow look like an idiot.  And by the way they LOVE Tebow here. They cheered more for Tebow than for any other player, and when Tebow got his 3 AB's and called it a day, so did all the Mets fans. By the top of the 8th, probably 60% of the fans had left.

Offline GburgNatsFan

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Online dcpatti

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The new home that the Nats share with the Astros. It's really nice, yall.

Parking: there's a charge, but I don't know how much because we usually Uber (we like beer a lot).   These cars parked out front are some sort of promotional thing but I don't know what. They're not player cars and you can't park here though.  The parking lots are around the side and they haven't really figured out the whole traffic situation yet; the lights in the area are poorly timed and the signage from the street is pretty bad, so leave a little extra time if it's your first visit. Uber/Lyft will pick up/drop off near the big Astro's H by the staircase but tell the driver to take you to the Haverill entrance if they've never been there before; the rideshare apps like to try to take you to the players' entrance.

 


The area shown above used to be generic picnic tables but now it is the $30 all-you-can-eat section.  You get burgers, brats, potato salad and stuff like that, although I don't know if it's buffet style or if you go to a concession stand. i didn't see a buffet set up.  You can still access the kids' play area directly beyond these tables. This seating area is roped off, making seat poaching not possible. The tables and seats look comfy though. The umbrellas don't cast a ton of shade so i'd probably save this for a night game.


 
Seating: we definitely thought these seats were the most comfortable of the 3 parks we visited on this trip. Good legroom.  You'll get shade for an entire 1:00 game if you choose seats in the back third of any infield section; unfortunately the tickets the Nats give as SPH freebies are outside of the shade zone (so look for a night game to use those).     











I'd like to take this opportunity to say I love Stephen Strasburg.






Food: outside stuff is not allowed, but you can take one sealed bottle of water per person (20 ounce limit).  There's a nacho stand along the 1B side, near Sec 111, that has really good nachos with all sorts of topping choices. $12 unless you add guacamole and one of the messier and yummier stadium foods I've had in a while. There is also a really good jalapeno bratwurst; they use really good buns for the  brats, they're almost like pretzel bread.

Beer: really good selection including Magic Hat,  Due South, Shiner (overrated), Stella, Land Shark, a local cider whose name escapes me, South Beach Brewing and a bunch of others.  It would be really nice if they got better signage for the beer selections because no one knows what they want till it's their turn to order and everyone has to wait while they make up their minds. We  had a strawberry IPA that sounded gross but was actually really really good.  It's around $10 for a 16-oz "big beer."

On this trip, we stayed at the Embassy Suites PGA Village. There seemed to be some Cardinals minor leaguers staying there, and a ton of Astros and Cards fans.  It was about a 12-minute drive to the ballpark ($15 in an uber before a couple of discounts I got) and was one of the nicer Embassy Suites I've stayed in.  There's a number of restaurants within a short walk including Mr Gyro's, a super casual place for really really good, quick greek stuff (huge gyro for about $9).  I'd stay here again but I'm also still on the quest for the perfect Palm Beach hotel (close to the ballpark but with even more choices for dining/hanging out within a short walk).

Offline varoadking

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So, Patti...I don't recall from being there last year...where would you suggest we use as the rallying point for a WNFF Meet & Greet here...has to be somewhere near beer, and preferably not in full sun.  I know that limits options...maybe the right field concourse area behind the video board, though I don't see a beer vendor out there?




Online dcpatti

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So, Patti...I don't recall from being there last year...where would you suggest we use as the rallying point for a WNFF Meet & Greet here...has to be somewhere near beer, and preferably not in full sun.  I know that limits options...maybe the right field concourse area behind the video board, though I don't see a beer vendor out there?

The concourse bows out around Sec 108-110 . It’s nice and wide, so plenty of space for standing and socializing without blocking the flow of traffic. There are a bunch of concessions right there; you’ll have probably 6-8 kinds of beer to choose from, between the main concession stand and the carts right there. It’s in full shade. The only down side is there’s nowhere to sit.   But there’s not a lot of options for shade if you’re not on the concourse.

Offline skippy1999

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All I know is driving into the Disney Sports Complex on a Saturday is Hell.On.Earth. 

Offline varoadking

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  • This is Howie do it...
The concourse bows out around Sec 108-110 . It’s nice and wide, so plenty of space for standing and socializing without blocking the flow of traffic. There are a bunch of concessions right there; you’ll have probably 6-8 kinds of beer to choose from, between the main concession stand and the carts right there. It’s in full shade. The only down side is there’s nowhere to sit.   But there’s not a lot of options for shade if you’re not on the concourse.

Our seats are in 109...kind of busy there, though you're right...there is that recessed area with a couple of concession stands there.  That may work...thanks for the reminder...

Offline varoadking

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  • This is Howie do it...
All I know is driving into the Disney Sports Complex on a Saturday is Hell.On.Earth.

Try a weekday night sometime...

Offline skippy1999

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Try a weekday night sometime...
I cannot imagine it being worse :turrible:

Online dcpatti

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All I know is driving into the Disney Sports Complex on a Saturday is Hell.On.Earth.

Going from there to Winter Park at 5pm on a Thursday was penance for something I have not done yet.

Getting to the complex at around noon was smooth sailing though.

Offline Minty Fresh

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  • Oh you call what you got a team?
All I know is driving into the Disney Sports Complex on a Saturday is Hell.On.Earth. 

I played in a tournament there - had an 8:30 a.m. game.  Traffic was just as bad that early in the morning.

Offline skippy1999

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Going from there to Winter Park at 5pm on a Thursday was penance for something I have not done yet.


Ha we were going FROM Winter Park to there at about the same time and yea whatever that penance was for better be worth it lol