Cardinal baseball, from the girls
Spring Training Tourism Advice for Planet Jupiter
March 8, 2014Posted by on
Okay! So you have bought the tickets and are planning to hop a plane to Florida and leave the winter cold behind? Congratulations! You soon will have arrived in baseball heaven …or at least the February/March location.
Welcome to Jupiter, Florida, the Spring Training home of the St. Louis Cardinals!
If this is your first Spring Training trip, let me pass along some tips we have learned from those who went before us and some hints we’ve discovered for ourselves along the way.
1) Weather: Any February or March weather in Florida is likely better than weather from where you are coming, but there are two things to prepare for. Rain (the unthinkable MAY happen: your long awaited Spring Training vacation game may be delayed or cancelled) and sun (oh my goodness, the sun… it will bake you before you know it. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen people!)
2) Getting There: The Layout: Roger Dean Stadium is home to both the Cardinals and the Miami Marlins during Spring Training, but Marlins fans are few and far between. The Marlins training fields are to the North of the stadium and the Cardinals facilities are to the East or NorthEast. The Roger Dean Stadium complex is located near the campus of Florida Atlantic University in a community named Abacoa. East of I95, North of Donald Ross Rd, West of Central Blvd.
Parking: There is a parking garage less than a block, west of the stadium entrance. This year they were charging $10. There are also some parking spaces along the roads, but those spots are hard to come by unless you want to hike a bit.
Team Store: This is located at the Southwest corner of Roger Dean Stadium. Hours vary depending on the day (game day, workout day, etc). Here you can pick up special “Spring Training Cardinals” baseballs for autographs and the usual collection of hats, shirts, jerseys and whatnot. It’s not a large space and tends to be extremely crowded just before the stadium opens for games, so plan accordingly. The staff is super helpful – if you are nice. (Which you just really should be because you are at Spring Training and you are happy and warm and there’s baseball!) The team store does have a website with hours, etc at http://rogerdeanstadium.com/team-store/store-hours.html
Backfields: These are a short walk to the East and North of the stadium, past the player parking lot and the clubhouse. There is little chance of getting lost as the signs will guide you if you stick to the sidewalks.
Practice Times: Spring Training games most often start at 1:05 local Florida time (double check your tickets in case of split squad games or other variances). My experience has been that players arrive on the backfields at Roger Dean anywhere from 9AM to 10AM with practice lasting roughly 90 minutes. The gates to the stadium open around 11:30AM for 1:05 game start times.
Autographs: Spring Training is an autograph collector’s dream (usually). This year we went to the first games of the season and the players didn’t sign after practice as much as they have in the past. However this was the exception to our usual experience. The players have been more laid back and willing to hang around for photos and autographs during the later days of Spring Training ). You will see two prime areas for autograph opportunities built into the back fields layout: a short fence on the north side of the spectator area and a smaller barricade directly beside the 3rd base dugout of the main practice field. It’s all very close – just follow the crowds. If these directions aren’t clear, no worries: the sweet volunteers in the bright orange Hawaiian inspired uniform shirts will point you in the right direction. If players are going to sign autographs, they will usually stop by either of those two locations AFTER the conclusion of the practices.
Berm Seating: Tickets for that area go on sale each morning at the stadium. Fans can sit on the grassy berm by RF just behind the bullpen bench and the relief pitchers and bullpen catchers will often sign autographs there between innings.
Know your numbers: We took a printout with all the players’ Spring Training uniform numbers to reference during practices and games. It came in handy, especially with the abundance of minor leaguers in camp. The always informative Cardinal Nation Blog (run by Brian Walton, @B_Walton) has a complete list here.
Make friends at the game: You never know who may be sitting next to you! One year, we were sitting in front of the parents of a player on the opposing team -and come to find out he played 10 years at 2nd base with the San Fransisco Giants (something we only found at AFTER we’d left the stadium!) He only mentioned that he was the father of the kid playing in Spring Training and gave me his email address to send him photos I was taking of his son (If only I hadn’t lost that email! ugh.) If you want to read more about the “Robby Thompson misadventure” I wrote about that back in 2010, here titled Mission Impossible. This year we successfully managed to
stalk find John Mozeliak in the stands during a game and snagged a quick photo.
Keep your eyes and ears open for unique opportunities. For example, Brian Walton also alerted us to an autograph opportunity at a FL Sporting Goods store where we snagged autographs from Mike Matheny, John Mabry and Matt Carpenter. We also stumbled across the Rawlings truck parked outside the stadium, showcasing the Gold Glove Awards that will be presented to Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright in April – we could just walk up and touch them! super cool! And watch out for chance meetings with players on the campus. We bumped into Chris Carpenter taking a jog on the streets around the stadium several years ago. Players may also stop their car on the way out of the player parking lot when they leave for the day to sign for the poor straggler fans who hang around long enough at the end of the day. Spring Training is just too incredible for most diehard baseball fans to imagine… you just have to be there!
So, I hope you have the time of your dreams on Planet Jupier! ;)
Best wishes on your journey, and may you catch a foul ball!
When not at the ballgame or the backfields, some other interesting tourist things you might find to do around Jupiter:
- Visit the Jupiter lighthouse and museum (website link)
- Drive through Jupiter island to ogle at the million dollar beach homes.
- Hit the beach! Weather permitting, there are several beaches within driving distance: Jupiter Beach, Palm Beach, etc. This year we drove to Lake Worth Beach which had a cool pier and shops close by. We rented a little beach umbrella and a couple of chairs right there on the public beach because we hadn’t packed any beach gear and had a fabulous day people watching while the kids splashed in the ocean.
- Visit the Elliott museum, a baseball museum in Stuart, FL. I toured this museum back in 2010, on “special assignment” for Aaron Hooks over at CardsDiaspora.com. (Which pretty much meant that he had free tickets from the place if he would put up a post about it on his website. I had to pretend that I knew what I was doing as a reporter or something, but it got me free admission and a personal tour of the museum. That was also my inaugural internet writing attempt and I was crazy nervous… which looking back on that now cracks me up! ;) Here’s the link to that adventure and the post over at CardsDiaspora: Erika’s Spring Training 2010 Confidential
This was, of course, just a few quick tips I would give any friends heading to Jupiter. If you have more great advice for other Cardinal baseball fans visiting Spring Training for the first time, please share in the comments section!
My spring training trips usually include hundreds of camera shots because the photo opportunities are tremendous. So don’t forget your camera, of course! And if you missed the player photos from my 2014 trip, here is the link to the gallery.