Though I may constantly be evolving, one thing I always have been (and always will be) is a baseball enthusiast! I am a life-long St. Louis Cardinals fan, and darned proud of it!
From times long ago, when I hid a transistor radio under my pillow to hear the finish of a game on a school night, to swiping the Sports Section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from a guy in the college dorm cafeteria to look at the box scores, those Boys of Summer have consistently beckoned to me through the nearly nine fantastic months of each baseball season. I can honestly think of few things better than enjoying Opening Day with all of its festivities or crowding in along the World Series Champions parade route to Busch Stadium to welcome our Redbirds home from another successful campaign! Now that you know these things about me, I suspect it will be no surprise that I have always had an interest in going to Cardinals Spring Training…
When starting to plan a Florida vacation for March 2004, someone who knows my penchant for the Cardinals suggested that I check into getting some tickets for a spring training game. Instantly I thought it was a great idea, but I also felt that it would be near impossible to work out the details (or that it would be really expensive). It turns out that neither of those things were true…
After a quick trip to http://www.stlcardinals.com, I located the Spring Training Schedule for the Cardinals. Home games were at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL; away games were at the other MLB training complexes for franchises hosting their spring training in Florida – aka, the Grapefruit League. I compared my business travel schedule to the “Home” game schedule, and located a few dates that would work.
St. Patrick’s Day was a home game, and the date seemed like a winner from the moment I saw it. Tickets for the spring training games were literally “dirt cheap”. There is no way you could get a ticket between the $5 and $21 price range at Busch Stadium unless it was a special promotion. This idea was only gaining steam, and I was going to make my trip happen!!! I quickly booked tickets for a few games on back-to-back days and set out to plan the flight, hotel, and rental car. Pesky “travel” items could wait; getting Cardinals spring training tickets: Priceless!
The trip to Florida started out terrific! Not only was the flight smooth, but it was a sunny day to drive my rented Mustang convertible from the Ft. Lauderdale Airport to my hotel on Singer Island. (I even drove on Route ‘A1A’, made oddly famous by Vanilla Ice…)
The drive to my first game at Roger Dean Stadium was an even bigger piece of cake. There were several good routes from the hotel to the ballpark in Jupiter, and there was really great signage to the park from I-95 and Donald Ross Road. The area containing the ballpark is technically referred to as Abacoa, which itself is a very small town with Central Boulevard as the main thoroughfare.
Several of the major streets you will need are University Boulevard and Main Street. Parking at the ballpark was a snap. There is some street parking and also one large parking garage directly across from Roger Dean Stadium, which is located at 4751 Main Street. Better still – all parking is free!
Roger Dean Stadium is clearly the “diamond” (on several levels) for this small town, and you can’t miss it! Just mere moments from turning off of I-95, I found myself at this spring baseball mecca…
Roger Dean Stadium
Turns out that seeing a spring training game with 6,000+ fans who actually know baseball, love the Cardinals, and enjoy watching the game in the warm Florida sun is pretty darned cool. The people that will invest vacation time to see the Birds on the Bat mean business and genuinely love the game! You just never know who you will see in the stands or on the fields…
I’ve now had the pleasure to attend Cardinals spring training games at Jupiter in three different years, and it is fun to feel a bit like a local when I go back. Since the Cardinals record for getting to the World Series in years that I attend spring training is .667 (and .333 for winning it all!), I keep thinking the Cardinals will call me up and offer some gratis tickets to make the trip each year. So far that has not been the case, but I’m definitely game to make a trip to Cardinals Spring Training a tradition!