Charlotte Sports Park
Charlotte Sports Park in January 2009, nearing completion of renovation
|Location||2300 El Jobean Road|
Port Charlotte, FL 33948
|Field size||Left Field: 343 ft|
Left-Center Field: 384 ft
Center Field: 414 ft
Right-Center Field: 384 ft
Right Field: 343 ft
|Broke ground||July 20, 1986|
|Opened||March 6, 1987|
|Construction cost||$5 million|
($11 million in 2018 dollars)
$27.2 million (renovation)
($31.8 million in 2018 dollars)
|Structural engineer||Bliss & Nyitray, Inc (renovation)|
|General contractor||Gilbane Building Co.|
|Tampa Bay Rays (MLB) (Spring Training) (2009–present)|
Charlotte Stone Crabs (FSL) (2009–present)
GCL Rays (GCL) (2009–present)
Texas Rangers (MLB) (Spring Training) (1987–2002)
Charlotte County Redfish (SCL) (2007)
Charlotte Rangers (FSL) (1987-2002)
Charlotte Sports Park (formerly known as Charlotte County Stadium and Ranger Stadium) is a baseball stadium in Port Charlotte, Florida. The stadium is the home field for Tampa Bay Rays spring training operations, as well as its Class-A Florida State League Charlotte Stone Crabs and Rookie-class Gulf Coast Rays teams.
Originally built in 1987, the main stadium underwent a renovation that was completed in January 2009 at a cost of $27 million.
Prior to the Rays, the stadium was once home of the Texas Rangers' minor league affiliate Charlotte Rangers, and has played host to college baseball tournaments and the South Coast League Charlotte County Redfish.
On February 3, 2010, the Rays announced a naming rights deal with The Mosaic Company. The agreement was reported to last through 2024, however due to a potential conflict-of-interest with Charlotte County—whom ultimately must approve the name change—the Rays asked for more time to study the proposal before giving it to the county commissioners for final approval. On February 17, due to intense opposition by both the Charlotte County Council and local residents, the Rays announced they were abandoning the deal with Mosaic and will potentially look at other companies in the future instead.
In March 2014, Charlotte Sports Park was named the #1 spring training destination by the readers of USA Today and 10Best.
The stadium has also been used by the local community for non-baseball events like concerts, festivals, and expos. It has hosted such musicians as Kenny Rogers, The Beach Boys, The Little River Band, and Simple Plan.
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Charlotte Sports Park has a variety of amenities including a playground area for kids, a boardwalk that wraps from foul pole to foul pole, two grass berms for general seating, and a tiki bar where you can get your favorite beer or liquor while you take in the Stone Crabs game or whichever sporting event happens to be on the TVs mounted to the ceiling. The stadium also features four air conditioned suites on the second floor and a team store stocked with Stone Crabs and Rays merchandise. The third floor of the stadium houses a 17-seat press box, the media dining center, PA booth, camera well, and four broadcast booths. The stadium sits on a complex that also includes five full practice fields, a half field for infield drills, and indoor batting cages.
In addition to the scoreboard in left center, there is a static image board in right center that displays lineups prior to the game and batter/pitching graphics during play. A thin text board sits under the main scoreboard and displays everything from the name and number of the current batter or a new pitcher to various rallying cries like "Get On Your Feet," "Let's Go Stone Crabs," or "STRIKEOUT!" The pitch speed can be found directly to the right of this board.
There is a wide variety of food offered at Charlotte Sports Park. Your typical ballpark food like hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, candy, and soft pretzels are present, but other options like pulled pork, chicken tenders, BBQ nachos, cod fries, mozzarella sticks, salads and wraps are also available from the concession stands. Vendor carts scattered around the stadium expand the menu even more by offering ice cream, kettle corn, cheese steaks, fresh squeezed lemonade, and sno cones.
There is only one retired number that hangs in Charlotte Sports Park: 405. It's not a jersey number, but rather a radio number that belonged to Sgt. Michael Wilson. A member of the Charlotte County Sheriff's Department for 21 years, Sgt. Wilson was killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call on August 5, 2013. The community rallied around the Wilson family and turned out in thousands holding signs and waving flags as the funeral procession drove by. Officers from counties across the state were also on hand to help send off one of their own.
On August 13, 2014, the Charlotte Stone Crabs retired Sgt. Wilson's 405 during a pre-game ceremony, with the Wilson family unveiling the jersey shaped sign. The number now hangs just inside the Home Plate gate.
During the 1994 Spring Training, the Rangers played host to the Chicago White Sox who featured basketball star Michael Jordan. The game drew a record crowd and was one of only a few sites in Florida to host Jordan.
In 2000, after signing an unprecedented 10-year deal worth $252 million with the Texas Rangers, slugger Alex Rodriguez held a press conference with the sports media at the stadium. The stadium was unable to accommodate the significant number of news reporters. In an effort to allow enough room for reporters to speak to Rodriguez, the press conference was held on the roof of the Rangers' dugout, a clear sign that the Rangers had outgrown the facility. They would leave 2 years later.
The Rays opened Spring Training at the renovated stadium on February 14, 2009. They lost their first Spring Training game to the Cincinnati Reds on February 25, 7–0. Their first Spring Training home win came on February 27, a 12–4 win over the Boston Red Sox.
- Snyder, Jack (July 21, 1986). "Construction". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
- Topkin, Marc (February 3, 2010). "Spring Fling: Stadium Now Mosaic Field at Charlotte Sports Park". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on February 9, 2010. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
- Pittman, Craig (February 9, 2010). "Tampa Bay Rays Pull Charlotte Naming Rights Off Meeting Agenda After Objections". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
- Topkin, Marc (February 17, 2010). "Plan Dropped to Rename Spring Site Mosaic". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
- "Charlotte Co. deputy, father of 3, fatally shot". nbc-2.com. Aug 7, 2013.
- Kelli Stegeman (Aug 13, 2014). "Sgt. Michael Wilson honored at home plate". Fox 4. Archived from the original on 2014-08-27.
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