Port St. Lucie, FL
Review by Mike
Clover Park is the home of the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League and the spring training home of the New York Mets. As a Mets fan, I was very excited to attend a game at Clover Park and was pleased to find a starting lineup full of regular players in the first week of Spring Training. Approaching from the outside, Clover Park is delightful, festooned in orange and blue, with large portraits of Met greats from the past and even scattered orange and blue tiles reminiscent of the original exterior at Shea Stadium. On a beautiful February day in Florida, it all looked perfect.
And then we went inside. What we found was not a bad ballpark, just a remarkably ordinary one. The basic grandstand is concrete and sweeps from just beyond 1st base to just beyond 3rd base. Royal Blue seats, which would be nice to see at Citi Field, liven things up, but just a little. This is a basic grandstand built in 1988, before the minor league revolution of the 90s that brought a more intimate and fan-friendly design to stadiums of the lower leagues. This is basically Binghamton with a roof.
And about that roof. One wonders what they were thinking. The park would have a much more classic feel with more of a standard roof, one made of metal that extended out towards the field rather that up to the heavens. It’s more of a sunshade than a roof and it’s made entirely of concrete. It is so big and looks so heavy that it creates an oppressive atmosphere. I was almost afraid to sit under it. They would do well to do something to jazz it up, like paint the ribs orange and blue. Nothing shouts “utilitarian” like unpainted concrete.
There are party decks down each line that curl around the foul poles, but stop short of allowing fans to circle the park. These are pleasant and roomy and a good place to catch a breeze on a warm Florida day. The scoreboard is nice, with a good video board, but the line score, the old-fashioned light bulb style, presumably another homage to Shea, was entirely unreadable in the afternoon sun that shined directly onto it. With no auxiliary scoreboards as backup, the score and the count were anybody’s guess.
We had some good food at Clover; taco in a helmet and arepas, just like they sell in Flushing Meadow Park from carts on a Sunday, and the concourse under the stands featured more Mets history, including interesting mash-ups of former players and current players Photoshopped to look like they shared the same field. The Mets getting clobbered by the Astros didn’t help and we left Clover Park feeling underwhelmed. It’s an average ballpark that gets a boost for being the home of the Mets and celebrating that fact with enthusiasm.