Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A trip to Fort Myers: Scenes from Jet Blue Park

The Boston Red Sox opened their own state-of-the-art spring training complex in Fort Myers four years ago. The opening of Jet Blue Park and its accompanying amenities triggered a clause in the Twins contract with Lee County that resulted in a multi-year series of upgrades to their complex.

This year marked the first time I'd been to Jet Blue, and while photography was deliberately downplayed as part of our travel plans, we did get some photos that might give some of the flavor of "Fenway South" -- so-called because the park's dimensions were shaped to mimic the antique Boston yard. A few photos, several if not most taken by my wife, Linda Vanderwerf:

Ed sits on a bench with a representation of
the Red Sox mascot, Wally the Green Monster.

The cantilevered roof at Jet Blue was designed, according
to our usher, to resist hurricane winds.

A more detailed shot of the roof and its

Jet Blue's version of the Green Monster. Note the man
on the stepladder changing a digit on the scoreboard.
He lugs the ladder out for each run and at the end of
each inning to make the changes.

A numeric sculpture garden outside the
admittance space displays the Red Sox'
honored numbers. No. 9 is for Ted Williams.

Also outside the ticketed space:
This larger-than-life depiction
of Teddy Ballgame.

A few other observations:

The "concourse" at Jet Blue is outside the park itself; tented food and drink stands line the exterior. Among the offerings that aren't available at the Twins yard are lobster rolls and a shrimp salad roll. But no bratwurst; they're catering to the tastes of New Englanders, not Midwesterners. (They do have a marvelous frozen lemonade.)

Jet Blue does not host a team in the Florida State League. The Fort Myers Miracle, which plays at Hammond Stadium, is affiliated with the Twins and has been for decades. The Sox' High-A affilate is in the Carolina League. The Sox do have a team in the very low-level Gulf Coast League, a so-called complex league; GCL games are typically played on the back fields. So Jet Blue, once spring training ends, is basically used as a concert venue.

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