Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
TD Ballpark 373 Douglas Ave Dunedin, FL 34698
Year Opened: 1990 Capacity: 5,509
TD Park Renovations are a Home Run for the Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have held Spring Training in Dunedin, FL since 1977. However, the 2021 preseason marked the first time the team had played in a stadium built to their specifications and desires. The stadium also entered this new era with a new name… TD Ballpark. The stadium now holds 8,500 fans and provides several enhancements to improve the fan experience. Fans who have not been to a Blue Jays preseason game in a while are in for a very pleasant surprise.
Food & Beverage 4
The food and beverage programs received a great deal of attention in the relaunch of the stadium. The number of point-of-sale locations and beer/soda service locations both increased. A new concession area was built behind the batter’s eye in deep center field. The boardwalk in the outfield also allowed a Tiki Bar and the WestJet Flight Deck to be added to the food and beverage service locations. Drink rails were added so fans could socialize without worrying about their beverages spilling on their friends.
The concessions menu for the most part your standard American (and Canadian) stadium fare. This menu includes jumbo hot dogs ($8.75), pulled pork sandwiches ($10) pizza ($5.75), chicken tenders ($11), nachos ($.7.75), fries ($6.50), peanuts/Crackerjacks ($6), popcorn ($6) candy/chips ($5.50) and pretzels ($6.25). Drinks include sodas ($4.75), bottled water ($4.50), craft beers ($13), and Labatt’s ($10).
Some of the non-standard food items available at TD Ballpark are poutine ($8.25), peameal sandwiches ($17.50), gator bites ($17.50), and grouper tacos ($17.50).
There is a different vibe in the newly remodeled park. Both locals and the Canadians who have traveled down for the games are stunned and pleasantly surprised by all the changes in the park. The process of just getting around the stadium is greatly enhanced by the addition of a boardwalk in the outfield, allowing fans to travel 360 degrees around the playing field for the first time. Fans are also enjoying the new 23’ X 40’ videoboard in center field.
The park now offers new opportunities for adults and children. The adults can enjoy a cold beverage while watching the game from a vantage point that did not exist a season ago. The kids enjoy the new play park, with plenty of new games to choose from.
The players also seem to enjoy the new facility as well. It offers many new support facilities for the players that are not evident to the fans. They take pride in playing in the new facility.
One on-field thing that did not change is the dimensions of the playing field. They are 328’ in left field, 400’ to deep center field, and 327’ in right field… the exact same measurements for the playing surface at Rogers Center.
Thankfully one thing that has not changed is the wonderful neighborhood that surrounds the park. Dunedin is still a pleasant town along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Its tree-lined streets still offer some shade from the heat. The people of Dunedin are still the welcoming bunch that welcomes you to park in their front yard, rather than complaining about the baseball traffic.
You can still enjoy a cold brew at one of the eight breweries spread around the town, including the Dunedin Brewery just down the street from the park. It is the same town that offers plenty of places to eat brunch before the game or enjoy a nice dinner after a game.
In other words, if it is not broke… don’t fix it.
As you would expect, the fans from the Great White North are more than happy to escape the harsh winters and enjoy sunny Florida. Many have winter homes in the Dunedin area. They are a proud bunch, as they are easy to spot in their Blue Jay gear or some manner of the maple leaf on their clothing. They are also easy to pick out as they know the words O Canada when the National Anthem is played before the game.
Blue Jay games also draw the locals, many of whom are retired, who long ago adopted the Blue Jays as their own. Another set of fans who help fill the stands is the ballpark chasers. These baseball fanatics are determined to visit every stadium in the Grapefruit League in just one season.
Accessibility was a critical consideration in the stadium rebuild. The new capacity of the stadium was going to be much higher, so making sure fans could get in and out of the park with no problems was a major concern. Stadium designers also want to make sure the new stadium allowed a smooth flow inside the stadium during a game.
The flow in and out of the stadium is now improved, as the number of entrances and exits has increased. Some entrances/exits will be for the use of season ticket holders, while others will be specified for the general audience attending the game. This will reduce the number of people trying to use a specific entrance and exit door. The concession stands were redesigned so that they did not take critical space up in the concourses.
The new boardwalk is also being used to spread out the additional fans over a larger footprint in the stadium.
Unfortunately, the roads leading to and from the park have not been part of the renovations. Dunedin is still more than 20 miles from any interstate. The streets surrounding the park are more residential than commercial in nature, and the construction of wider roads might be harmful to the values of the homes surrounding the ballpark.
Return on Investment 3
Ticket Prices at TD Park remain lower than average in price compared to other Grapefruit League stadiums. Price points for tickets are $29 for upper-level seats in the infield, $21 for seats along the baselines in the outfield, or $16 for SRO/ General Admission for the boardwalk in the outfield.
One area that has not changed when you arrive at TD Park is the lack of parking at the stadium. This means that fans will still need to appreciate the goodwill of the businesses and townspeople to use their parking lots and front yards while they are at the game. The going rate for parking in these areas is $5-$10, depending on how close you are to the stadium.
Concession prices have gone up in price since last season. These prices are detailed in the Food and Beverage section.
During the closure of the U.S.A /Canada border during the pandemic, the Blue Jays spent the first two months of the season playing at TD Ballpark.
Chad the Beer Guy is still around to lead fans in Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th Inning Stretch.
Day games at TD Ballpark start at 1:07 pm. The two extra minutes in start time are to allow for both the Canadian and U.S. national anthems to be played during pregame ceremonies.
TD Park should earn the Comeback Award for the most improved stadium in the Grapefruit League. It has addressed nearly every deficiency that haunted the many incarnations of the stadium in earlier years.