Photos by Sean MacDonald , Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Roger Dean Stadium 4751 Main St Jupiter, FL 33458
Year Opened: 1998 Capacity: 6,871
Drove My Chevy to Jupiter
Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium has the distinction of hosting two minor league teams during the season. So it shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that it also welcomes two major league teams during spring training: the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals. Of course, the two clubs have their own practice fields, batting cages, pitching mounds, and other training areas, but they both play their preseason games on the Roger Dean diamond. To avoid any accusations of favoritism, the stadium is divided in two, with the Marlins facilities on the left side, while the Cardinals occupy the right side.
The stadium opened in 1998 and has aged gracefully through the years. Located in the Abacoa community of Jupiter, the stadium’s naming rights were a gift from the daughter of Roger Dean, who opened a car dealership in the area in 1960. The business is now located in Cape Coral, about 150 miles away on the west coast of Florida, but the name remains as a tribute to Dean rather than as a marketing initiative.
The Montreal Expos once shared the stadium with St. Louis, before the Canadian club was sold to Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins moved in. The Expos ambled north to Viera, then became the Nationals, who now share their spring home with Houston at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, about 20 minutes away.
In February 2022, the stadium was the site of negotiations during the MLB lockout, which ended in time for this reviewer to get to Florida for a few games. This review is for the Marlins, which is likely a more sedate experience than when the Cardinals are playing.
Food & Beverage 4
There are plenty of concession stands serving typical ballpark fare at typical major league prices. The stands have baseball themed names such as Triple Play Eatery and Grand Slam Express. As the stadium hosts two teams, both local favourites are available at the stand across from the team store. Miami’s choices are a roast pork sandwich and Gator Bites, while Cardinal connoisseurs can enjoy toasted ravioli and St. Louis Style BBQ Pork Nachos. The Island Grill Cart has some seafood selections such as Mahi-Mahi Tacos and Crab Cake Sliders.
Beer choices come in 16 and 25 ounce cups for your domestic (Bud, Bud Light, and Michelob Ultra), while Boulevard craft is served in 19.2-ounce cups. Chido is a local tequila maker and has sponsorship around the venue; you can enjoy a cocktail for less than most beers.
Pepsi provides the soft drinks, which come in 20-ounce bottles. As we visited at the end of spring training, we are not including prices here as they are expected to rise for 2023.
Outside, the stadium fits into the neighborhood quite well, with its coral and gold stucco exterior blending nicely with the trees, bushes and flowers. You will not forget that you are in Florida as you approach.
Inside, the stadium has a fairly common minor league layout. The field boxes run from outfield to outfield around home plate. A second tier of large seats, separated by the main walkway from the field boxes, runs from about third to first. Above them, the press box and luxury suites sit around home plate. A party tent and small bleachers section sits out in left field, and the Cassidy Cool Zone (an air-conditioned group area with an all-you-can-eat buffet) and a small picnic berm can be found in right.
We attended a night game so the sun was not an issue, but if you are there for an afternoon affair, the only regular seating with any sort of protection is the last three rows of the loge boxes in front of the press box but not directly underneath the first base luxury boxes. Sitting anywhere else? Load up on sunscreen and pray it doesn’t rain.
Abacoa is a planned community that consists of different areas, each themed on different architecture, with plenty of shopping and dining available. A Florida Atlantic University campus also lies just south of the park.
In addition to the ocean beach and the inlet area to the northeast of the park, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse is of historical significance, and the Hibel Museum on the FAU campus is excellent for art aficionados.
The Abacoa development has a lot of restaurant and bar options within a few blocks of the park. Those looking for a drink after the game will find JJ Muggs Stadium Grill right across the street, while Miller’s Ale House is closer to the highway.
The Marlins do not draw as well as they should, given that their home park is less than two hours south. Of course, the Marlins don’t draw well there either, so maybe not so surprising. We attended a Mets game and the support for the visitors was very noticeable. As you would expect for a spring training game, everyone was in a good mood, happy that the baseball season would take place after all.
Jupiter is nestled on the southeast Florida coast, and the park is conveniently right off of both the (toll) Florida Turnpike and I-95. The nearest airport is Palm Beach International (PBI), which is just 20 minutes south.
At the stadium, parking is a ridiculous $12 for the garages, but you can find free street parking within a five-minute walk. Spaces are clearly marked and there are no residential restrictions; we found a spot on aptly named Parkside Drive.
A wide exterior concourse extends from left to right field, servicing all entrances and getting people to the concessions that line the walkway, as well as the stairways up to the seating bowl. Concessions can get crowded here, so try to grab something beforehand, or eat at one of the many restaurants nearby.
The walkway that splits the two seating levels also has standing room areas, so traversing this can be a bit tricky at times.
The doors open two hours before game time from three gates arrayed around the park. Security does take time if you arrive close to first pitch, so keep that in mind.
After the game, if you are parked on the street, you will have no problem getting back on the highway and off to your next destination.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets can be accessed on the secondary market for far less than face value, and given the rather relaxed policy towards lounge seating; this should be your best bet for getting in cheaply. If you take advantage of the free parking and eat at a local establishment instead of inside the stadium, you can enjoy mostly major league players for much less than it would cost to sit that close at an MLB ballpark. Except perhaps in Miami.
There is a tribute to Expos season-ticket holders from the inaugural season in 1998 that brings a tear to my eye.
The Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame has its inductees listed by class on banners around the concourse. Burt Reynolds is one member.
Overall, RDCS is a good spot to watch spring training baseball, helped by the fact that Miami is not as big a draw as the Cardinals. You can enjoy all of the benefits of being in Florida in March without the crowds that sometimes make spring training a chore rather than the beautiful baseball experience it should be.