|Chronological Tour: Stop 214|
An interior concourse of the Disney’s Wide World of Sports stadium, Aug-2001.
A good view of the seating bowl.
The view from the upper deck after nightfall.
That’s not exactly true. Attendance reaches five figures when the Braves play spring training here. But when the Orlando Rays took up residence in Rodentville (as I’ve heard at least one person call the land of Mickey Mouse), the fans stayed away in droves.
The Wide World of Sports baseball stadium, part of a much larger complex accommodating several sports and multiple events at once along with the Official All-Star Cafe, is gorgeous. The architecture is almost mission-like, with an interior concourse and two decks that you reach through theater-like portals. Yet the park itself is as modern as it can be, which is appropriate given that it was built in 1997 as one of the newest features of Walt Disney World.
But in the realm of Southern League attendance, the park did worse than Atlantic City in its league. The Rays, who used to average over 3000 fans a game at Tinker Field in Orlando, averaged 60 percent less at this site 20 miles down the road toward Tampa. The game I attended was witnessed by only 650. There were very few season ticket holders. They were known to come close to filling the park for fireworks nights, but that’s about it. Disney World attendees don’t think to come to the ball game; they’d rather stick around Downtown Disney for the nightly fireworks show. And O-town residents can’t be bothered driving down the freeway (or one of the area’s numerous tollways). To make matters worse, the Orlando Sentinel’s coverage of the team was spotty at best. As a result, the Rays departed for Montgomery after the 2003 season.
Still, I find the facility outstanding. The only shortcoming is that the electronic numbers for the count on the otherwise manually operated scoreboard are difficult to see. That, and the fact that prices are almost Disneylike, detract from the place.
Among other sports facilities, Disney’s Wide World of Sports includes a Baseball Quadraplex, four adjoining fields behind left field at the main stadium. As of my 2003 visit, the Gulf Coast rookie league’s Braves typically played on Field C, but for 2016 their games are listed as being played here.
|486||Wed 8-Aug-2001||Southern||AA||Mobile 5, ORLANDO 2|