Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches 5444 Haverhill Road West Palm Beach, FL 33407
Year Opened: 2017 Capacity: 7,858
Washington Moves to Stadium of the Palm Beaches
The Washington Nationals moved into the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in 2017. They formerly played in the Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida, a stadium they had inherited from their former time as the Montreal Expos. The Nationals were seeking a new home as the Space Coast Stadium had become dated and they were drawing very sparse crowds. Viera had also become geographically isolated from where the other Grapefruit League teams played, necessitating long bus trips to away games.
They share the stadium and the training complex in West Palm Beach with the Houston Astros. The ballpark was built by the city of West Palm Beach to attract a major league team (or two) back for the first time since the Atlanta Braves left for a new stadium in the Disney complex. Moving to the West Palm Beach area meant the Astros and Nationals could play each other at home, while also playing the Cardinals and the Marlins, who are a short distance away in Jupiter.
The location of the stadium is between I-95 and the Florida Turnpike, making it very easy to reach via these main thoroughfares. The design of the stadium is very similar to many others in Florida in that it must be elevated as digging down into the ground would result in hitting the high-water table. The stadium is in the center of the complex, with the Astros and Nationals training facilities surrounding it.
Food & Beverage 3
For the most part, the concession offerings at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches are your typical baseball fare. Items include hamburgers w/fries ($11), grilled chicken w/fries ($10), BBQ sandwiches w/fries ($10), and chicken tenders w/fries ($10.50). Other items include ¼ lb. brats ($7.50), hot dogs ($5.50), nachos ($5.50), pretzels ($6), candy ($4.50), and chips ($2.50) Pepsi brand products are sold for $5-$7 depending on the size.
For adult beverages, domestic drafts are $10, premium drafts are $12. Canned domestic beers go for $9, while canned premium beers are $10. Cocktails and wine are $9. There is one concession stand named the Capitol Hill Grille, but it does not sell any food that would be unique to Washington DC.
Fans with a sweet tooth may want to visit the Beaches Ice Cream stand. They offer an ice cream helmet for $7.50, a soft serve in a cup or a waffle cone for $6, and root beer floats for $7.
Nationals fans were very happy when the team relocated to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches from Viera, as there are frequent flights into the West Palm Beach airport from Washington, DC. Attendance at Nationals home games has picked up dramatically since the move from Viera.
The stadium entry is via a set of steps on the west side of the stadium. The exterior of the stadium is virtually hidden, as there is greenery growing all around the stadium. Once you reach the top of the stairs you will be at the concourse level of the stadium.
The concourse travels 360 degrees around the field. The seating bowl is located below the concourse level, with only the suites and press box on the second level. The Nationals dugout is on the first base side of the field. Seating capacity at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches consists of 6,200 seats, and room for 1,400 more fans on the outfield grass berms.
One drawback to playing at the Palm Beach stadium is that it does not do much branding of either team in the stadium, apart from the two team’s logos in a sculpture form outside of the stadium. This gives the stadium a very generic feel from other Grapefruit League ballparks that actively promote their tenants through stadium colors, concessions, and imagery.
The area around the stadium itself is surrounded by the two teams’ practice fields and training facilities. The complex is so large that shuttle vans take you back to the distant parking lots. Once you exit onto Haverhill Road you will need a car as there are no hotels or nice restaurants within walking distance of the park. Most of the hotels are located along the I-95 corridor and the only restaurants nearby are of the fast-food variety.
Since you will have a car, it is well worth your time to head across the causeway from West Palm Beach to Palm Beach. Once in Palm Beach, you will feel like you are in an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” First check out the boutiques along Worth Avenue, Palm Beach’s shopping district, then visit the Flagler Museum next to The Breakers to learn about this enclave. Before you leave take a short driving tour of homes owned by the Kennedys, the Pulitzers, and many other celebrities.
Nationals fans have been thrilled with the move to the Palm Beaches venue. Their attendance numbers are much higher than the Astros and many locals have also adopted the team. The team has created a great rivalry with their training complex neighbors, the Astros, as both teams have won a World Series in recent years. The teams play each other frequently, as the MLB is trying to keep travel to a minimum due to COVID protocols. Fans from both teams can stock up on team memorabilia at the Team Store located by the main gate.
Getting around at a game at the ballpark is going to require a car. Parking is just after you enter the complex from Haverhill, and the lots are a great distance from the stadium itself. Make sure you take one of the free trams that will drop you off at the park.
Once at the stadium, you will have a series of steps to navigate up to the concourse level. All fans must enter through the West Gate, and during the security check, this area can become quite congested. Once inside, the stadium is very well laid out. It has a wide concourse and great signage, making it very easy to locate your seat. BTW, the seats are a generous 20 inches wide, enhancing your comfort level as you enjoy the game.
Return on Investment 3
The FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches uses a variable pricing system depending on the popularity of the visiting teams. Prices for the different sections can be compared with the slide with the stadium schematic. Field Box seats ($37-$56), Dugout Boxes ($31-$47), Infield seats ($28-$42), Outfield Reserve ($23-$32), and the Banana Boat Berm ($15-$25). Pre-purchasing your ticket before game day brings the price down by $5. Parking is $10 and payment must be made by credit card.
The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches has canopies atop the stadium to provide as much shade and sun protection as possible. There are parts of the concourse that allow you to see directly down into the bullpens.
Beach chairs atop the berm are available on a first-come/first-serve basis and provide a great view of the field while providing you with a wonderfully comfortable chair. A craft beer corner is in the left-field corner of the concourse. It has more than 32 tap handles to choose from.
The popular President’s Race is a part of every game. However, it is in a video format rather than through live appearances by the past Commanders-in-Chief.
While the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is a very functional facility, it lacks many of the bells and whistles found in other spring training facilities. The video board does not show any replays and there are no scoreboards on the facing of the main seating bowl. The ballpark also lacks drinking and eating rails along the front of the concourse, a standard element in most parks. We found the concessions to be reasonable, and our view of the field was excellent. The lack of branding for the two resident teams was disappointing. Hopefully, some of these features can be added to the stadium for future seasons.