Champion Stadium

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Champion Stadium
Home Of The Braves.jpg
Former names
  • The Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports (1997, 2007)
  • Cracker Jack Stadium (1997–2006)
LocationWalt Disney World Resort
700 S. Victory Way
Kissimmee, FL 34747
OwnerWalt Disney Parks and Resorts
OperatorESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Capacity7,500
Field sizeLeft field – 335 ft / 102 m
Left Center – 385 ft / 117 m
Center Field – 400 ft / 122 m
Right Center – 385 ft / 117 m
Right field – 335 ft / 102 m
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Broke groundJuly 1995
OpenedMarch 28, 1997
ArchitectDavid M. Schwarz
Tenants

Champion Stadium is a baseball stadium located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in the Walt Disney World Resort.[1] The stadium was built in 1997. It is the home for the Rookie-league GCL Braves.

The 7,500-seat stadium was designed by David M. Schwarz in a style designer dubbed Florida Picturesque incorporating Venetian Gothic Revival, Mediterranean and Spanish influences with yellow-painted stucco, green-tile roofs, towers and arches.[2]

Name[edit]

Champion Stadium was originally known as The Ballpark then Cracker Jack Stadium.[3] When it was first built, Frito-Lay purchased the naming rights to the venue for ten years and put its Cracker Jack brand on the stadium. Frito-Lay chose not to renew its naming rights deal. During most of 2007, it was referred to as The Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports. On November 1 of that year,[citation needed] HanesBrands Inc. purchased the naming rights for ten years and put its Champion brand on the stadium.[4]

History[edit]

Originally, Disney planned for no MLB permanent spring training tenant for the stadium, instead using as a Grapefruit League neutral site with rotating teams. However, the Braves organization became interest and move in.[5]

The Atlanta Braves Spring Training game against the New York Mets in 2008

The Ballpark opened with the rest of Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex on March 28, 1997 with an exhibition baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds. The Gulf Coast League Braves began play at the stadium in 1997,[6] while the Atlanta Braves started its 20 year spring training lease in 1998.[2]

Opening ceremony of the 2016 Invictus Games

In 2000, after years of poor attendance at Tinker Field, the Orlando Rays moved to the Ballpark. However, the Rays, continued to draw barely 1,000 fans a game in their new stadium. Things improved somewhat over the next three seasons; the Rays drew 150,051 fans in 2003, more than twice what they had seen just a few years earlier at Tinker Field, but still last in the league. Following the 2003 season, the Rays moved (breaking a 10-year lease at Disney after just four years)[7] and became the Montgomery Biscuits.

The venue hosted the 2001 Atlantic 10 Conference Baseball Tournament, won by Temple.[8]

The old style manual score board was replaced in 2003 with a larger electronic scoreboard and message center. Champion Stadium was used during first-round games for the 2006 World Baseball Classic. It hosted Pool D, and featured teams with professional players from Venezuela, Australia, Dominican Republic and Italy.[5]

The stadium hosted its first regular season MLB games from May 15–17, 2007 season when the Texas Rangers played the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in a three-game series. The three games drew a total of 26,917 fans, and attendance went up each game. In April 2008, the Rays moved another series, this time against the Toronto Blue Jays, to Orlando.[9]

In January 2017, the Braves announced a formal agreement to move their spring training home to North Port, Florida in 2019.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Powers, Scott (2008-06-17). "Fun and games serious business at Disney's Wide World of Sports". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  2. ^ a b Carroll, Frank (January 17, 1997). "Braves To Toss 1st Pitch At Disney". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  3. ^ "Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  4. ^ Carter, David M. (2010). Money Games Profiting from the Convergence of Sports and Entertainment. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804776790. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Hixson, Derrick (February 24, 2009). "Atlanta Braves Spring Training Fan Guide". Bleacher Report. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  6. ^ Kornacki, Steve (March 23, 1997). "Now Disney Has Its Own Wide World Of Sports". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-23. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  8. ^ "Atlantic 10 Conference Baseball Record Book" (PDF). CSTV. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-16. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  9. ^ Topkin, Marc (2007-11-07). "MLB, likely foe open to return to Orlando". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  10. ^ Murdock, Zack (January 17, 2017). "Atlanta Braves pick Sarasota County for spring training". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved February 27, 2017.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Olympic Stadium
London
Invictus Games
Opening Ceremonies Venue

2016 Invictus Games
Succeeded by
Air Canada Centre
Toronto

Coordinates: 28°20′13.5″N 81°33′21.6″W / 28.337083°N 81.556000°W / 28.337083; -81.556000