Ed Smith Stadium
Sarasota, Florida
Year Opened
1988

Current Team
Baltimore Orioles (Spring Home)

Affiliate
N/A

League
N/A

Capacity
7,500

Location Map

My Grades
Stadium B- Atmosphere D Concessions C-

Photos taken in 2007
When you're in Florida, it's not hard to find minor league ballparks. But finding one that provides a good atmosphere and which draws some fans is a bit more difficult. If you attend a game at Sarasota's Ed Smith Stadium, you'll want to keep searching. Among all the minor league ballparks I've attended games at, this is one of the most depressing. The park is just too cavernous and has too much concrete, characteristics that are magnified when crowds are rarely more than 500. Ed Smith Stadium opened in 1988, meaning it feels a bit outdated now. But it is still a perfectly fine venue. The seating bowl is split into a lower and an upper section by a narrow walkway which leads to concourse. The seating extends almost from foul pole to foul pole, meaning many seats are close to the field, but also that many are far from the infield where the majority of the action is. Except for small bleacher sections in both the LF and RF corners, all seating is plastic fold down chairs. They are probably still the original seats as they look very weathered and should probably be replaced. A small roof does cover the back half of the upper level seating, so at least shade is available for those who want it. The uncovered concourse runs behind the grandstand (out of sight from the field) and features several concession stands and a small souvenir kiosk. Concessions are somewhat limited for FSL games as the most unique item offered is the "Big Red Smokey" (a sausage). Prices are a bit high and quality is below average. Clearly the team isn't trying to bring in fans by offering cheap or tasty concessions. With such small crowds, it is not surprising the atmosphere is not at all lively. The team does do a few between inning contests, but just trying to find fans willing to compete in them must be difficult. There has been talk in recent months about building a new spring training park for the Cincinnati Reds, but it doesn't look likely that it will happen. There is nothing inherently wrong with Ed Smith Stadium, so I would think money would be better spent renovating it. Even with a new park, it's unlikely the Sarasota Reds would draw any better, as it's clear the team isn't making much of an effort. Unless you're a real hard core baseball fan, Ed Smith Stadium is probably one you'd be better off seeing during spring training rather than for an FSL game. At least then there might be some fans in the stands. The Reds finally did get their new spring training ballpark, but in Arizona. In 2010, the Orioles will move their spring training operations to Sarasota and for '11, a major renovation of Ed Smith Stadium is planned.
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