A sellout crowd, an orange bird of paradise flower for each female fan in attendance, local construction workers honored on the field, and many rave reviews. The Birds opened their renovated Spring Training home on Tuesday but couldn’t wait to leave the sparkling new yard in a 12-6 victory over the Rays that featured five home runs in the first two innings.
Here’s a look at the new Ed Smith Stadium in words and pictures.
Big League Stew – “Renovations turn O’s home from pit to palace.”
Though the taxpayer-funded repairs sparked a good amount of dissent in the area and the initial facelift was completed in only eight months, there was no arguing with the results. Ed Smith Stadium now has amenities that are equal to other spring homes. In many cases, they’re even better. While I would have told you to skip Sarasota as a stop in previous years, it’s now something you should circle if you’re doing a tour of the Gulf Coast parks.
Opening day began with local construction workers taking the field to a round of applause — though it did rain while they did so … figures — and ended with a 12-6 O’s victory as everyone walked around and checked out the stadium’s new features.
Big League Stew includes a brief photo essay as part of its story. You can also see some great photos of the game and the stadium at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune website. Meanwhile, The Sun has added new photos from Tuesday’s opener to its overall Spring Training gallery.
[Edit: Another photo link from a commenter, this one to ABC7 in Florida.]
Finally, here’s my contribution, some on-the-scene pictures from Sarasota Friend of the Blog Norm Schimmel.