The best thing about spring training at Ed Smith Stadium used to be you were only a few miles from the beach. The beach is still there and it's still beautiful, but what is equally impressive is the $31.2 million dollar makeover the stadium received in 2010.
There are several things Orioles fans can look forward to this year. Anyone who was at the old carnation of the stadium knows it was in desperate need of new seats. Not only did they install all new seats, the new chairs are directly imported from Camden Yards so O's fans can feel at home.
Another impressive addition is the Left Field Pavilion section. The pavilion section is located on top of the outfield wall, similar to the Green Monster seats at Fenway. Air conditioned VIP seating is a welcome addition as well. A second-story concourse was also built on top of the old concourse. From the second-level concourse, fans can enjoy a view of the field, and the first-level concourse is now covered. What used to be an old depressing stadium is now a state of the art attraction.
The new makeover was expensive, but the Orioles have managed to keep ticket prices quite reasonable. Tickets for 2012 spring training went on sale Jan. 28.
Single game tickets prices are as follows:
Standing Room: $10
Left Field Pavilion: $18
Reserved Grandstand: $20
Lower Box: $24
Infield Box: $26
Premium Infield Box: $30
Third Base Lounge: $32
There are really no bad seats in the house. All seats have backs, no metal bleachers here. The sun sets behind the left field grandstand in the afternoon, so if you want to be covered from the hot Florida sun, the upper rows of both grandstands would be the best bets.
Ed Smith Stadium is located in downtown Sarasota. There is no lack of budget hotels near the stadium. If you have the funds it may be a good idea to try to find a hotel Siesta Key or Longboat Key. These two barrier islands are about 5 miles via causeway from the stadium. The month of March is still relatively warm in Florida. After a day at the ballpark you can retreat to one of the Keys and enjoy sparkling blue water and warm Gulf breezes.
They brought more than seats down from Camden Yards. Something that sets Ed Smith Stadium apart from the crowd is that the stadium offers some of the same concessions as its MLB big brother. Items such as Baltimore Crab Cakes and Esskay hot dogs are just a couple things that will keep your mouth watering and remind you of home.
Kristian Eberwein is a sportswriter and fixture at MLB spring training.