Spring Training Kicks off Baseball Season, Influx in Visitors

    Just in time for its 20th anniversary, the ball park in Jupiter received a facelift and a new name.

    Walking through the front brick entrance of the stadium, fans will notice an extra word in the name: it’s now the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, thanks to a new 10-year contract. But the changes continue as one walks through the stadium thanks to a $500,000 in renovations.

    When buying a hot dog or some beef, guests will notice that the concession stands now all take credit cards and that digital menu boards have been installed. Also, a brand-new chickee hut was installed for a Guanabanas outpost at the stadium, using cypress wood from a nearby reservation and installed by the tribe. Here, fans can enjoy the shade and light concessions.

    Plus, the stadium’s six suites—which can be used for events, parties, or gatherings during games—was redesigned by tennis star Venus Williams’ design company, V Starr Interior. This took the rooms from its original 1998 design and updating it with new flooring, lighting, furniture, cabinetry, refrigerators, and ceilings. On the field, new sod was put down and the outfield wall and foul poles were replaced. Perhaps the biggest change that fans will appreciate is the shade over the fans. It was installed last year, but was enhanced with new fabric to protect almost half of the seats from the heat.

    We’re constantly making upgrades to the facility so that our fans see something fresh, something new year in and year out,” said Mike Bauer, general manager.

    Spring Training, which began at the end of February, has been a part of the Florida landscape for two decades now. Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium is home to MLB teams the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals. Fans from across the country—especially St. Louis, New York City and the Washington, D.C. area—flock to Jupiter to watch their favorite teams practice for the impending season. Minor league teams the Jupiter Hammerheads and the Palm Beach Cardinals.

    “They call us the busiest baseball stadium in America,” Bauer said. “Nobody has two Spring Trainings and two full-season Minor League teams like we do.”

    And the community can feel it. At the neighboring Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa, there’s barely any rooms open during Spring Training (although it’s perfect for a post-game beer and juicy Curve Ball Burger, check out their Spring Training specials)—it’s full of team family members, fans from up north, and Florida fans who want to get away for a weekend of the beach and baseball In fact, there’s a “red sea” of Cardinals fans in town, and they brought in roughly $52 million to Palm Beach County in 2016, according to the county’s Sports Commission.

    “Spring Training is kind of a cool thing; the games don’t count, a lot of the people are either on vacation or playing hooky from work or school, and they’re just enjoying a really laid-back atmosphere,” Bauer said.

    When the season starts, the Miami Marlins head back down to the Magic City to play at Marlins Stadium, but the stadium is still busy. The two Minor League teams bring in a crowd (as well as two rookie leagues teams). Coming up is a fireworks celebration on April 5, a championship ring giveaway on April 6, and then a Star Wars night on April 7.

    Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, 4751 Main St. in Jupiter, 561/630-1828, rogerdeanchevroletstadium.com.

    Schedule

    March 9 Miami Marlins vs. Boston Red Sox

    March 11 Miami Marlins vs. New York Yankees

    March 13 Miami Marlins vs. St. Louis Cardinals

    March 14 Miami Marlins vs. New York Mets

    March 17 Miami Marlins vs Houston Astros

    March 19 Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals

    March 21 Miami Marlins vs. St. Louis Cardinals

    March 23 Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals

    March 25 Miami Marlins vs. Houston Astros