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Twins and Red Sox return for Spring Training

By Staff | Feb 19, 2020

Each spring, two Major League Baseball teams call Lee County home, bringing the excitement surrounding the beginning of baseball season to Southwest Florida.

Spring Training is one of Lee County’s most popular times of the year, as these clubs and their fan bases turn up year after year in a preview to the regular season, giving die-hards up north a chance to see their favorite club and get a reprieve from the chilly temperatures.

Less than six miles apart, the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins both prepare for the season in Fort Myers – while giving the local economy a major league boost. And for both teams, pitchers and catchers reported to their respective clubs on Feb. 11, with Grapefruit League action kicking off on Feb. 22.

The Red Sox play at JetBlue Park, often referred to as “Fenway South,” which fans from New England and many transplants in the area have filled to capacity each game since it opened in 2012.

The Twins have called Hammond Stadium at Century Link Sports Complex home prior to the Major League season going on 30 years, as 2020 marks three decades of Twins baseball in Southwest Florida.

The best part about having two teams in Lee County each Spring Training is that both the Red Sox and Twins compete for the Chairman’s Cup (formally the Mayor’s Cup), as they often play against each other since they are in such close proximity to one another.

Hammond Stadium underwent nearly $50 million in renovations in 2014 and 2015, and was voted one of the top Florida State League facilities in 2019.

The stadium’s outer facade was designed to resemble Churchill Downs.

Hammond Stadium seats 9,300, features a 360-degree boardwalk and concourse, premium seating a pro shop and more.

As baseball lovers walk down a street named after a beloved Twins player, they are greeted by a beautiful cascading rock design prior to entering the ballpark. Fans can make a loop around the stadium prior to game time, chasing autographs and enjoying concessions.

At Hammond, there’s not a bad seat in the house – whether you’re behind home plate, sitting on the grass on the first base side or in left field or watching along the drink rails in the deep outfield.

Ticket prices for Spring Training games at Hammond run for as little as $9 grandstand seats to $46 dugout box seats.

Group ticketing and Spring Training Season tickets are also available.

Just 5.7 miles east, JetBlue Park serves as the home of the Red Sox and one of baseball’s more impassioned fan bases.

With a capacity of 10,823, “Fenway South” is nearly a replica of Fenway Park in Boston, as the dimensions of the two ballparks are identical – including the 37-foot 2-inch-high wall in left field affectionately called the Green Monster. The design allows players to get acclimated to the unique shape and look of the oldest ballpark in America prior to the season in Fort Myers.

One difference in the two parks is that at Fenway South, fans can sit “inside” the monster. There are three rows of seating throughout the middle of the wall with netting in front to protect fans. Any ball hit off of the net is considered in play. Baseball still must clear the wall to be considered home runs.

There is also a manual scoreboard along the bottom portion of the mammoth wall, just as in Boston. Instead of someone sitting inside the Monster and making changes each inning from within, a scoreboard operator works closely nearby and uses a ladder to record the score between innings.

The almost wave-like design of the roofing around the ballpark casts a shadow over spectators during the game that gives some shade and are designed to resemble and reflect the cypress tree domes that surround the ballpark. Locally manufactured masonry blocks that make up the ballpark are also embedded with seashells from Sanibel beaches.

Stadium tours are also offered before each home game three hours prior to first pitch, as well as on non-game days. Along with an up-close and behind-the-scenes look at JetBlue Park, fans will have an opportunity to watch the Red Sox take batting practice on the main field or on the back practice fields. In either location, fans and tour guides will be on the field and behind stanchions. Tour guides will bring you interesting and fun facts and share with you the similarities between Fenway Park and JetBlue Park, along with an amazing view from the Green Monster.

Tour prices for non-game day is $10 with children 12 and under free and $40 for adults on game day and $15 for children 12 and under.

Spring Training tickets to see the Red Sox in action run between $5 and $35 depending on seat location. Reserved Lawn seats cost $5 while box, grandstand and Green Monster seats round out the top of the $35 price tag.

Parking at each stadium on game day is $10.

For more information on JetBlue Park, tickets, suites, permitted items and more, visit www.mlb.com/redsox/spring-training/ballpark. The JetBlue Park Ticket Office is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. JetBlue Park is at 11500 Fenway South Drive in Fort Myers.

For additional information on Hammond Stadium, tickets, suites, permitted items and more, visit www.mlb.com/twins/spring-training/ballpark. Hammond Stadium Box Office is open Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Hammond Stadium is at 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway in Fort Myers.

– Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj