Spring Training Action Heats up in St. Pete/Clearwater

Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies open Grapefruit League season this weekend

Friday, February 25, 2011

St. Pete/Clearwater, FL (February 25, 2011) - Terence Mann, the cantankerous-turned-cheerful character played by James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams, couldn't have been more right when he said the one constant through all the years has been baseball.

The celebrated film about America's pastime might have been fiction, but there's no doubting baseball's place in the St. Pete/Clearwater area's history books. Major League teams have called the area their spring home for more than 90 years. 

"It's a real treat for fans when you pair professional baseball in an intimate setting with a heavy dose of sunshine," said Kevin Smith, director of the St. Pete/Clearwater Sports Commission. "From our historic parks of the past to our newer, modern facilities, it's no surprise that the area has a long-time relationship with Spring Training."

The "Boys of Summer" returned earlier this month for their annual tune-up, with Spring Training games at Dunedin's Florida Auto Exchange Stadium (Blue Jays) and Clearwater's Bright House Field (Phillies) kicking-off this weekend. 

The American League East's Toronto Blue Jays open up their Grapefruit League season tomorrow against the Detroit Tigers at 1:05pm in Dunedin. The Jays have opened camp in the quaint village with the heavy Scottish heritage since the team's inception in 1977. 

Lauded for its cozy feel, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium (formerly Dunedin Stadium) was once ranked by Sports Illustrated as one of the top 5 places to watch a Spring Training game. 

The park also plays host to the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League, the Dunedin High School baseball team and various community activities throughout the year.

On Sunday, the action continues when the Philadelphia Phillies---last year's National League East Champs---welcome the popular New York Yankees for a 1:05pm matinee at Bright House Field. With both clubs carrying a large local following and both teams being picked to contend for a title, tickets for the game are selling fast. 

Offering full sun in its grass berm area and cold beverages in its Tiki Pavilion beyond the left field wall, Bright House has been a hit with fans since its 2004 inaugural season. In addition to being the spring home of the Phillies, the stadium also hosts home games of the organization's Florida State League team, the Clearwater Threshers, and the BIG EAST Baseball Championship. 

The Blue Jays and Phillies will also welcome perennial fan favorites like the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves to Pinellas County as part of their regular Grapefruit League schedule. Locals can get an early glimpse at the hometown Tampa Bay Rays, March 6 and March 12 when they travel to Clearwater; in Dunedin on March 2 and March 13; and in the spring finale against Toronto on March 30 at Tropicana Field.

In addition to the Spring Training schedule, fans can watch Major League clubs battle teams from around the globe in the St. Petersburg International Baseball series at historic Al Lang Field. The Blue Jays will take on the Canadian Junior National Team on March 4; the Rays play the Netherlands on March 9; followed by a Phillies-Netherlands matchup on March 13. 

Tickets are available for all of the area teams at their respective Web sites, Phillies.com, BlueJays.com and RaysBaseball.com. Ticket prices vary by venue and opponent.

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is the destination marketing organization for Pinellas County, Florida. 

Connect with VSPC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

For more information: VisitStPeteClearwater.com
Contact: Public Relations Manager Josh Hall: Josh@VisitSPC.com
Phone: 727.464.7223

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