TD Ballpark – Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
TD Ballpark 373 Douglas Ave Dunedin, FL 34698
Year Opened: 1990 Capacity: 5,509
Blue Jays Home is No Longer an Ugly Duckling
After more than 30 years, the Toronto Blue Jays have settled into a newly refurbished nest for their spring training home. TD Ballpark is the new name for the home field beginning in 2021. The stadium now holds 8,500 fans and provides a wide variety of enhancements to improve the fan experience. The entire tab for the redesign cost more than $102 million.
Food & Beverage 4
The food and beverage programs received a great deal of attention in the building of the new park. There are now 16 point-of-sale locations and four beer/soda service locations on the main concourse. An additional concession location has been added to the center field area of the newly finished boardwalk area. Other additions thanks to the boardwalk include Eddie’s Bar along the third baseline, a Tiki Bar, and the WestJet Flight Deck for fans attending the ballgame. Drink rails have been added to the entire length of the boardwalk, so fans can enjoy a cold one without worrying about spilling it on their seatmates.
The food options at the stands are your typical stadium fare including hamburgers, hot dogs, BBQ, brats, chicken sandwiches, and wings. French fries, onion rings, and pretzels round out the most popular meal packages. Some Florida-based items on the menu include Grouper tacos, Conch Fritters, and Gator Bites. There are two nods to the home country of the home team…. Labatt’s Blue is by far the most requested beer served at TD Ballpark, and poutine is included on the menu!
There is a different vibe in the newly remodeled park. Both locals and the Canadians who have traveled down for the games are stunned by all the changes the park has been able to make in one short year. The process of getting in and around the stadium is so much easier thanks to the additional entrances and the addition of the boardwalk.
The park offers new opportunities for adults and children. The adults can enjoy a beverage while enjoying a view of the game from a vantage point that had not existed before. The kids can enjoy the kid’s park designed just for them, with plenty of games to choose from.
This energy is also seen in the team on the field. The Blue Jays had played in arguably the worst spring training facility in the league before. They now enjoy expanded space in the dugouts as well as a more serviceable locker room.
Dunedin is a quiet, slower-paced town than the more cosmopolitan cities just south of it. It is located just north of Tampa/St. Pete. That does not mean boring. There are eight breweries located within a mile of each other! The town is also known as the home of Florida’s #1 State Park, Honeymoon Island. The waterfront area and marina are filled with restaurants serving a wide variety of cuisines, including the catch of the day.
Dunedin is also known for its quality shopping… and we are not talking about the cheap beach towel variety of stores. The town also sponsors more than 25 festivals a year, so there is a good chance one is going on when you are in town.
TD Ballpark is just south of downtown Dunedin. It is in a quiet residential neighborhood, yet is within walking distance of shops, breweries, and the waterfront.
As you would expect, fans from the Great White North are more than happy to escape their harsh winters and spring to enjoy the warm Florida sun. Many own summer homes in Dunedin or nearby in the Tampa/St. Pete area. They are a proud bunch, as they are easy to spot with their Blue Jay colors or some manner of Maple Leaf on their attire. They are also easily identified by knowing the words O Canada, as the Canadian national anthem is played before each contest.
The citizens of Dunedin have also adopted the Blue Jays as their own, as the team has been an important part of their town since 1977. Ballpark hunters will be showing up in large numbers this year as Dunedin and North Port (Atlanta Braves) have new stadiums to show off in 2021.
Dunedin and TD Ballpark are easily accessed from the Tampa/St. Pete area via Highway 19 North. Turn west at Sunset Point Road (Highway 588) for two miles, then head north on Douglas Avenue for ½ mile.
Another consideration in the construction of TD Ballpark was improving accessibility once you arrive at the park. The number of ticket windows was doubled, cutting down lines dramatically. The number of gates to enter/exit the park has been doubled.
Additional restroom facilities have also been added. Most importantly, thanks to the boardwalk in the outfield, TD Ballpark has a 360-degree concourse that encircles the park greatly improving the flow during the game. The ballpark also provides greater accessibility for the teams, as the dugouts and locker rooms on both sides have been enlarged.
Return on Investment 3
The Blue Jays offer a wide variety of ticket options based on location in the park. Lower Reserved is the cheapest option at $20; Outfield Reserved is $25; 200 Level Infield costs $28; Infield Box seats go for $34 and the most expensive, Premium Box seats go for $43. Parking at the ballpark goes for $15-$20, but you may find much cheaper parking in downtown Dunedin, which is an easy walk from the stadium.
As we have mentioned earlier, the concessions at TD Ballpark are your typical stadium fare and are priced at stadium-level norms. An afternoon out with the Blue Jays will not come cheap, but the new enhancements are enough of a “wow” factor that you will forget about how much lighter your wallet is.
The Blue Jays have played on the same stadium site since their inception in 1977. Their history began in Grant Field, which was built in the 1930s. Dunedin Stadium replaced Grant Field in 1990 and went through several names, including Knology Park and Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, before the 2020 construction of TD Ballpark.
The electronics package at TD Ballpark has been overhauled. The sound system is now state of the art as is the HD scoreboard/video board in the outfield.
Autograph seekers at TD Ballpark this year (2021) may be disappointed. The Blue Jays training facility, The Englebert Baseball Complex is not located adjacent to the ballpark. Also, COVID-19, with guidance from the CDC.
TD Ballpark is kid-friendly as the Pavilion area in the left field corner offers games, balloon animals, face painting, and caricatures. There are also Adirondack chairs for adults to relax in as they monitor their children.
The dramatic upgrades added to TD Ballpark have impressed visitors who have not been to the park in a year due to the pandemic. The leadership of both the Blue Jays and the city of Dunedin have worked magic in turning around an aging park into a top-of-rating level the facility.