Ed Smith Stadium
Review by Mike
Ed Smith Stadium is the Spring Training home of the Baltimore Orioles and a lovely place it is, indeed. Set right in downtown Sarasota, this place feels like what a Florida ballpark should feel like. The architecture features arches and tile accents, all painted a gentle cream color. Palm trees abound along with a comfortable patio beyond the left field fence that feels like it should have beach chairs instead of stadium seating.
The grandstand is long and narrow, extending almost to each foul pole, but not going back very far, making every seat to be very close to the field. The landing above the seating is open to the general public, not reserved exclusively for club seating, allowing fans to stretch their legs and still watch the game with a great view. The bullpens are right at the end of the grandstand on either side, right near the railing, so you can watch the pitchers warm up from a spot nearly close enough to touch them… but don’t do that. A friendly usher opened a gate to allow Gary to snap a nice photo before the game.
In the left field corner is a very agreeable garden with shade trees and orange umbrellas that bring to mind New York Central Park’s “The Gates”. A sign showing direction and distance to every Orioles affiliate can be found here, along with a statue of the team mascot, the unimaginatively named “Oriole Bird”. Mr. Bird himself was on hand on this day, parading atop the dugout, trying to coax the crowd to get behind the wayward Orioles, who were in the processing of being grounded by the Rays.
The entry rotunda features pennants from every Orioles success, including World Series, league titles, division titles and wild card appearances. I was a little disappointed not to see a banner for the 1944 American League Champion St. Louis Browns, from whence the Orioles came, but this is a minor quibble. The stadium is tastefully done with orange and black accents, Oriole logos and historical photos of great moments in Orioles history, although I could not find any photos of their 1969 World Series appearance… hmmm. Ed Smith is a wonderful place, providing exactly the experience a baseball fan hopes to find when going to Florida for Spring Training.
A small roof covers the entire grandstand, its effectiveness greatly heightened by fabric extensions that project further out over the seating, allowing for more shade without making us feel like we were watching the game from inside a cave. Even the press box looked welcoming, standing pridefully behind home plate, windows open and surveying the action. An Oriole shaped weathervane sits atop one of the turrets along the 3rd base line. A nice touch.