Chronological Tour: Stop 351

Charlotte Sports Park

Home plate entrance to Charlotte Co. Stadium, Sep-2009.

A look at the seating bowl from just beyond the left field foul pole.

The view from directly behind the plate, in the reserved seating area.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
I missed seeing a game at Charlotte Co. Stadium by one year, as the Texas Rangers picked up stakes and moved to Arizona for the 2003 season. My first Florida State League trip was in 2003, so I missed out on the park.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Ripken Baseball announced in August 2008 that they had jointly purchased the Vero Beach Rays and were transferring the club to Port Charlotte. This was in addition to the Rays announcing that they were moving their spring training from Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg to the Charlotte Sports Park, which had seen use for youth and college tournaments in the seasons when the complex was without a spring tenant.

The entities promptly renovated the stadium. All the seats in the seating bowl were replaced, a new souvenir shop and team locker rooms were added, and in order to accommodate the walk-around concourse that is so popular among ballpark visitors, they added a boardwalk beyond the outfield fence. This elevates the outfield walkway and allows for drainage into the ponds adjacent to the stadium. The bullpens are between the outfield wall and the boardwalk.

Finally, the Rays marketed their new team, which was now called the Charlotte Stone Crabs. While many Major League clubs that field entries in the Florida State League are content to live off their spring training revenue, the Rays and Ripken agreed to do everything they could to bring fans into the park. Nearly every evening featured a promotion or giveaway of some type. The strategy worked, as the Stone Crabs led the notoriously ill-attended FSL in ticket sales in 2009. At least three times in their inaugural season, attendance exceeded 6,000, a figure practically unheard of in the class-A loop.

Game # Date League Level Result
1031 Sat 5-Sep-2009 Florida State A Sarasota 4, CHARLOTTE 1
1499 Fri 26-Aug-2016 Gulf Coast R GCL RAYS 4, GCL Orioles 0
Return to the Stadiums page
Return to Charlie’s home page

Site and images Copyright © 2009 Charles O’Reilly. All rights reserved.
This page updated 26-Aug-2016