Baseball City Stadium
|Location||300 Stadium Way
Davenport, Florida 33837
Left - 330 ft.
|Opened||February 7, 1988|
|Kansas City Royals (MLB) (spring training) (1987–2002)
Baseball City Royals (FSL) (1988-1992)
Gulf Coast League Royals (Gulf Coast League) (2001-2002)
Baseball City Stadium was a stadium located in Davenport, Florida (near Haines City) that was in use from 1988-2002. It was a portion of the Boardwalk and Baseball theme park. The two facilities adjoined at the intersection of Interstate 4 and Route 27, about 25 miles southwest of Orlando. The facility had five practice fields in addition to the stadium. It was primarily used for baseball and was the spring training home of Kansas City Royals prior to the team moving to Surprise Stadium in 2003. The ballpark had a capacity of 8,000 people.
The stadium opened on February 7, 1988; it was designed to be the cornerstone of the Boardwalk and Baseball theme park. The Royals were quick to jump at the opportunity to play in a brand new stadium and signed on for a 15-year contract. The stadium's first event was the 1988 Pizza Hut All-Star Softball game, played in front of 4,700 fans. The Royals played their first spring training game at the ballpark on March 4, 1988, in front of 3,281 who saw them lose 9-7 to the Houston Astros. The Royals also moved their Single A Florida State League affiliate, renamed The Baseball City Royals into the park for the 1988 season.
However, the Boardwalk and Baseball theme park was very rapidly becoming a financial disaster. The owners and developers of the park, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (now Harcourt, a division of Reed Elsevier), put very little money into the park, and almost all money went into the Baseball Stadium. The property was originally a failed park called Circus World, and HBJ simply renovated and re-opened the park, without adding new rides, hoping that the renaming along with the stadium would allow it to compete with nearby Disney World. Quickly the park started to cut costs, including closing at dusk and laying off several employees. In September 1989 HBJ sold the theme park and stadium to Anheuser-Busch. In 1990 Anheuser-Busch closed the theme park, and by 1993 almost the entire park had been torn down. Following the 1992 season the Baseball City Royals pulled out of the Florida State League and moved to Wilmington, Delaware.
Kansas City would continue to use the Stadium as it was a very modern spring training facility and still drew very solid attendance numbers. Anheuser-Busch kept the stadium open rather than break their contract that they had with the Royals. In 2001 the Royals would also move their Rookie League team, the Gulf Coast League Royals into the stadium. However, when the contract finally ran out at the end of the 2002 season, the Royals moved all of their spring training and rookie league operations West to Surprise, Arizona, where a brand new $20 million park was being built and was offered to any team willing to leave Florida. Soon after, the stadium and the IMAX Theater, which were the only remaining parts of the original theme park, were demolished.
After sitting idle for over a decade, the land was sold to developer Victor Posner in 2001. The ballpark was torn down in 2005 to make way for the new Posner Park; a retail complex with several big box stores opened on the site in 2008.