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Official Review by Michael Rusignuolo, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
For over 25 years, the New York Metropolitans have called Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie their Spring Training home. For 2013, they had to dust off some signs in storage, as their two-year naming agreement with animation company Digital Domain was not renewed. But Tradition, Florida, grabbed up the naming rights again, leading to the return of Tradition Field in 2014.
While Tradition Field is also the home of the A-Ball St. Lucie Mets and the Rookie-League Gulf Coast Mets (not to mention hosting some Florida state high-school baseball tournaments), it gets most of its visitors as a Spring Training venue for the parent MLB club. Despite some meager community surroundings, the 7,160-seat Tradition Field is a solid spring venue at an excellent value for fans looking to get close to their club.
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For traditionalist baseball gastronomes, standard baseball fare (and some knishes from up north) are readily available at concession stands located at regular intervals around the stadium, while the Ulti-Met Grill (get it?) offers those standards fresh grilled for the same prices.
Variety is available at Frank & Al's Pizza near home plate, Sonny's BBQ in right field, and Bella Roma near the first base entrance, which serves up Italian specialties, subs, desserts, and meatballs in a helmet.
If that's not enough for your helmet food needs, a small concession nearby serves up a sizable Taco in a Helmet ($6). The food is good, but the variety leaves a little to be desired, especially as smaller specialty concessions from previous years have sadly disappeared.
The epicenters for drinking is the Corona Beach Bar in a tiki hut in left field and the SeaCoast Party Zone in right, which offer alternatives from the Bud and Corona at the regular concession stands. Blue Point, Shock Top, Sam Adams, and Yuengling are on offer, and the Beach Bar offers buckets of premium beer or rum ($32 and $14 respectively). Once again, the selection is adequate, but not exceptional.
As recent renovations have connected the outfield picnic berm with the infield entrances, there's no particular benefit to entering at either Gate A, B, or C, or the handicapped/suite entrance elevator right by the ticket booth. Gate C is easily the least utilized, there are generally not any crowd issues at any of the gates.
Sitting on the east coast of Florida, Tradition Field can have sun issues. All of the areas from dugout to dugout behind home plate (Sections 206 through 207) are shaded by a large concrete overhang (and perhaps a row or two next to them if the sun is leaning that way), and they are the place to go if you don't want to bake, although there are also some shade trees out on the picnic berm.
Fans looking to see the most of the home team should acquire seats behind their third base dugout and get there when the gates open 90 minutes before game time. Autograph seekers can also camp out there up to a half hour before game time, when guests are allowed in any seating area of the park. The Mets have recently renovated and opened up the practice fields behind the park, letting fans (especially autograph seekers) have a close look at the players. The entrance (down the walkway from the A-Gate entrance) can be hard to find. Just turn left at the gate and follow the sidewalk until you see the signs.
All the seating offers excellent views of the field, so you really won't gain much sitting closer to the field than further away. The picnic berm in right field is the cheapest, first-come, first-served seating ($12), and the only shot at going home with a home run souvenir. The regular seating offers comfortable, if not luxurious, seats. Big spenders can rent one of the luxury suites next to the broadcast booth behind home plate, and larger parties can rent out the covered picnic area in left field.
Mr. Met is one of the few mascots that doesn't make the trip to Florida, which is a shame. Even his tropical shirt wearing southern doppelganger doesn't make appearances, though the other Mets minor league mascots sometimes show their faces. Although abbreviated by the new pace-of-play rules, standard minor league entertainment of contests and tests of skill are scattered throughout the inning breaks.
While it has come a long way from the sarcastic (but then-accurate) moniker of "Port St. Lonely," the area around Tradition Field is not exactly a bustling metropolis. Standard suburban strip mall amenities are available a short drive south, and golfers will turn their heads toward the 54-hole PGA Village complex just west of the stadium, but other than that, there just isn't a lot to recommend in the area.
There's a wide variety of chain restaurants and bars on the main drag in town, with some local standouts such as Tutto Fresco, Sam Snead's Tavern, West End Grill, and Roy's Sushi.
For hitting the hay, the Outdoor Resort is closest to the park to the north, while many more options huddle a short drive to the south on the main drag right off I-95. MainStay Suites, Sheraton, and Hilton Garden lie to the west by the golf resort, while to the east, there's Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Spring Hill Suites, Residence Inn, and Hampton Inn. The closest cheap option is a Best Western about four miles to the east on Route 1.
The Mets are not known as being big draws in Spring Training, but attendance seems to have improved over the recent years (no doubt helped by the resurgence of the team). The crowd is mostly made up of families, and the fans in attendance are into the game and knowledgeable (or loud mouthed know-it-alls, depending on your affiliation). Most of those in attendance are New Yorkers looking for a break from winter, or former New Yorkers who have moved down south to permanently flee the tyranny of winter.
The park is located just off I-95 (though the signage leaves a lot to be desired -- blink and you'll miss the one sign to the park off the main drag), and it is just about an hour north of West Palm Beach International Airport. Driving is mostly your only option, as the local bus service won't be of much assistance. Parking is a reasonable $8 for Spring Training.
Inside the park, a large concourse extends from the edge of left field by the party deck all around to the berm picnic area in right center. You can walk all around without missing any of the game, but except on the berm, all the concessions stands are located on an inside walkway and not the concourse, meaning you'll need to miss some of the game if you don't get your grub before the game or between innings.
For Spring Training, you can sit behind home plate for just a little more than a bleacher seat for a regular-season game (or the price for a couple of beers at Citi Field, for that matter). Tickets run $12-$35 ($2 more if purchased on game day). Nearly all the concessions are under $10 (with the exception of the BBQ sandwiches and alcohol buckets at the bars), and special kids meals get a corn dog, fries, and soda for just $4. Regular hot dogs are $4.50 and 24-oz souvenir beers run $7.50. All the concession prices are quite reasonable (especially from a NY perspective), the ticket prices for the seats can't be beat, and the park experience itself is worth the reasonable price of admission.
The $5 Tradition Field program comes with the fluff pieces that fans have come to expect from such baseball programs. The main store is accessible outside the main entrance, and two smaller locations are inside the stadium itself. The usual inexplicable array of merchandise for the parent club is available, from hats and jerseys, to color-your-own puzzles and game-used memorabilia. If you're feeling lucky, there are always at least one or two charity raffles going on for autographed merchandise, either at stands outside the entrance, or in the fan services booth in the outside walkway of the park.
Championship banners for the parent club, as well as the minor league affiliates that call Tradition Field home are just inside of Gate C. A solemn monument to 9/11 is located in a mini-park across the street from the main entrance, along with a slew of smaller memorials to milestones of park construction and renovation and late staff members of the Mets organization (Joe McShane, Andy Kaplan, and George McClelland).
The main entrance plaza is dedicated to previous namesake and field builder, Thomas White. They also recently added a "To the Majors" section on the first base walkway to celebrate players who made it to the bigs from the low-minors teams that call Traditional Field home. And all the roads out in the practice fields honor Mets greats (Tom Seaver Curve, Willie Mays Drive, etc.).
Kids can test their throwing arm at a blow-up pitch booth just inside Gate A, or sign up for on-field events at the fan relations booth.
Though not the newest or the nicest of the Spring Training venues, Mets fans can get their closest encounters with their big-league heroes at Tradition Field for a reasonable price, and at a good venue. It is well worth the price of admission.
Member Review by Oogieball on Mar 26, 2013
For more than 25 years, the New York Metropolitans have called Port St. Lucie their Spring Training home. For 2013, they had to dust off some signs in storage, as their two-year naming agreement with animation company Digital Domain was not renewed. But Tradition, FL, grabbed up the naming rights again, leading to the triumphant return of Tradition Field.
While Tradition Field is also the home of the A-Ball St. Lucie Mets and the Rookie-League Gulf Coast Mets (not to mention hosting some Florida state high-school baseball tournaments), this was a look at the park as a Spring Training venue for the parent MLB club. Despite some meager community surroundings, the 7,160-seat Tradition Field is a solid spring venue at an excellent value for fans looking to get close to their club.
9501 Reserve Blvd
Port St Lucie, FL 34986
8540 Commerce Centre Dr
Port St Lucie, FL 34986
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800 NW Peacock Blvd
Port St Lucie, FL 34986
7900 U.S. 1
Port St Lucie, FL 34952