jetBlue Park at Fenway South
|Full name||JetBlue Park at Fenway South|
|Location||11581 Daniels Parkway
Fort Myers, Florida
|Field size||Same as Fenway Park:
Left Field: 310 feet
Left-Center Field: 379 feet
Center Field: 420 feet
Right Field Bullpen: 380 feet
Right Field Pole: 302 feet
|Surface||Bermuda Grass (Celebration)|
|Broke ground||March 4, 2011|
|Opened||March 3, 2012|
|Construction cost||US$77.9 Million|
|Structural engineer||Bliss & Nyitray, Inc.|
|General contractor||Manhattan Kraft Construction|
Boston Red Sox (2012–present)GCL Red Sox (2012-present)
Opened in March 2012 it is primarily the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox, replacing earlier separated facilities at City of Palms Park and Boston's former (1993–2011) minor league complex, also located in downtown Fort Myers. The naming rights were purchased by JetBlue, an airline with major operations at Boston's Logan International Airport since 2004.
In 2008, the Red Sox began exploring the possibility of relocating their spring training facility. Their previous spring training facility, City of Palms Park, was lacking the modern amenities that other spring training ball parks had and was located two and half miles away from the team's minor league complex. Red Sox CEO Mike Dee visited Sarasota to talk with city officials about the possibility of the team moving there. Sarasota County commissioners then voted 4-0 to approve the purchase of land for a Red Sox spring training facility. Fearing the possibility of losing the Red Sox the Lee County Commission voted in October 2008 to agree to build a new ballpark for the Red Sox. The Red Sox also signed a 30-year lease with the city of Fort Myers. The following April it was announced that the new stadium would be located on a 126-acre lot north of Southwest Florida International Airport. When the Red Sox announced they would stay in Fort Myers they stated the new stadium would be similar to Fenway Park. The architecture team was led by local Fort Myers firm Parker/Mudgett/Smith Architects, Inc. and Populous and assisted by Boston firm Quirk. The groundbreaking was in August 2010 and construction commenced in February 2011.
The ballpark's field has exactly the same dimensions as Fenway Park and some of the unique features as the Boston ballpark as well. The most notable is a replica of the Green Monster in left field. However, unlike the one in Boston, the Green Monster in Fort Myers has seating within the wall. There are three rows of seats carved into the middle portion of the wall. Part of the reason for the netting separation in the wall was due to Hurricane building code. Separating the seats inside the wall from the field is a net so that balls cannot go inside the seated area. If a ball is hit off the net play is not interrupted, it is the same as if a ball is hit off the Green Monster at Fenway. Another unique feature about the Green Monster is that like one in Fenway Park it has a manual scoreboard. The scoreboard is an older one that had been used at one point in Fenway Park, but before being installed in Fort Myers was in a storage facility in South Dakota. The manual scoreboard is different from the one in Boston though because there is no room behind it where a scoreboard operator can put numbers while the game is going on. Instead, a scoreboard operator works in a room in between the scoreboard and the foul line and has to run out in between innings with a ladder and scoreboard tiles to change the scoreboard. Other features from the ballpark in Boston that are present in the spring training stadium are the triangle, Pesky's Pole, and Lone Red Seat that marks the longest home run hit in the Fenway's history.
One of the signature features of the ballpark is the wavy roof that sits over the seats in the stadium, providing shade for the fans in attendance. The roof also is an example of how the ballpark incorporated its location in Florida into the design of the stadium. The wavy design of the roof resembles the Cypress trees in the surrounding area of the ballpark. In addition, the blocks that make up the ballpark are embedded with sea shells from nearby Sanibel Island. The park also features a lawn in right field, a popular feature in spring training parks.
In addition to the ballpark where spring training games are played there is also a state of the art player development complex. Unlike the old spring training ball park, JetBlue Park is located on the same piece of land as the player development complex. The player development complex features six fields that can be used for drills during spring training, injury rehab assignments and many other baseball activities. One of the six practice fields has the same dimensions as Fenway Park. There are two locker rooms, one for the major league players and another one for the minor leaguers. The major league locker room used during spring training has an oval shaped design, is 50,000 square feet, and has lounge areas with flat screen televisions.
The first game played in JetBlue park was on March 3, 2012, against Northeastern University. However, the first Grapefruit League game played at the park (the third game overall) was played on March 4, 2012 against the crosstown rival Minnesota Twins. On March 4 the ceremonial first pitch saw eight current players catching, with the balls brought onto the field by Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, and Dwight Evans. The first homer at the field was hit in the opening game by Lars Anderson and was a grand slam. The home team won, 8-3.
In addition to serving as the home field for Red Sox spring training games JetBlue Park is the home field for the GCL Red Sox, who play in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League (GCL) during the summer. The park also serves as a venue for local festivals, circuses, conferences, and many other events. In May, 2013, JetBlue Park was the host site for the final round games of the Florida High School Athletic Association's statewide high school baseball championship tournament.
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