Grapefruiting

Grapefruiting 2018: Spectrum Field a draw for all Phillies fans



We’re just two days from the Phillies’ first Grapefruit League contest. It’s a Friday afternoon affair against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida.

There’s still time to buy tickets to games and hop on flights for the Gulf Coast, so if you’re thinking of heading down, we’re happy to give you a little primer on spring training. It’s Grapefruiting 2018 – four days of things to know before heading to Clearwater.

Today, we look at Spectrum Field, home of the Phillies’ spring training games.

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The days of the intimate spring training, where players would chat with fans from the dugout or hang out with fans at bars, are over. Spring training is now big business, with fans from the north routinely looking to get away from the cold and head down to Florida (or Arizona).

And if you’re the Phillies, those days are really, really over. The confluence of the team’s golden era with the opening of the amazingly beautiful Spectrum Field has turned many causal spring training attendees into lifers who plan most of their year around a Clearwater vacation to see Phillies spring training games. But just because you’re no longer likely to see any of the Phillies strolling down Mandalay Avenue in Clearwater Beach even though it was once a common occurrence, that doesn’t make spring training in Clearwater any less fun.

When you do get to a game, here are some of the features you won’t want to miss at Spectrum Field:

Frenchy’s Tiki Pavilion: You’ve seen it on TV, and you dream about being able to sit there with a pina colada while the Phils play during an 85-degree day in March. But there are two things you need to know. First, you can’t get in to the pavilion during a game unless you’ve bought a ticket. Not a general ticket to the game, but a specific game ticket that allows you access to the pavilion.

That’s right, it’s become such a draw that they actually sell tickets to the bar. No pavilion ticket ($25), no Frenchy’s. The bar does stay open well after the game and is then open to those without Frenchy’s-specific tickets. Another thing you should know: The bar is open even when there aren’t games. So if you really, really want to see Frenchy’s, but you don’t want to deal with the crowds or having to pay extra, go for a happy hour when the Phils are on the road.

Carpenter Complex: If it’s been a while since you’ve visited spring training, you’ll remember the Phillies minor league games and practices were held a couple blocks away from old Jack Russell Stadium at the Carpenter Complex. The fields are still there, but now the big club has just moved in next door, as Spectrum Field is actually part of the complex. So it’s pretty easy to see the minor league guys working out in one of the four fields that make up the complex. The view is best from left field near Frenchy’s.

Outfield berm: You can do it at the Little League World Series, you can do it in minor league sites such as Coca-Cola Park, but it’s pretty rare to find a major league stadium where you can sit on the outfield grass to watch a baseball game. It’s much more common in spring training, and Spectrum Field has about 1,500 general admission tickets available every game for fans who want to sit in the outfield grass beyond the field. Just know that the grass and the ground under it can get pretty wet in the spring, so bring a picnic blanket. Just don’t bring a lawn chair, which would make you “that guy” in everyone’s way. If you can get a spot in left-center, that’s where the bullpens are.

Concourse: Like Citizens Bank Park, the concourse at Spectrum Field is a true 360-degree experience, meaning it wraps around the entire field and you can walk through the entire open area to tour the stadium. There are plenty of food and drink stops along the way, stocked with Philly-area cuisine in case you somehow get homesick while you’re basking in glorious warm sunshine in March instead of de-icing your driveway for the 50th time this winter. That includes the beer choices, which include Yuengling and Victory, along with other local crafts. If you’ve brought the kids, there is a playground along left field line in the concourse.

Some spring dates to remember at Spectrum Field:

Thursday: First home game, an exhibition against the University of Tampa

Saturday: First home game against major league competition, the Orioles

March 17: Traditional St. Patrick’s Day game vs. Atlanta

March 27: Last spring training game vs. Pittsburgh

There are no night home games this year, though there are three on the road at the Yankees (Feb. 26), Orioles (March 11) and Braves (March 12).

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