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700 South Victory Way
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Stadium Opened: 1997
Capacity: 9,500
Dimensions: LF- 335 ft.  CF- 400 ft.   RF- 335 ft.
Surface: Natural Grass

Former Names of Ballpark: None

Parking:

  • Free Parking- but expect it to take about 20 minutes or more to get out of the parking lot after the game.
  • Parking is a pretty far walk to the stadium, since the lot is gigantic and then there is also a long sidewalk leading to the entrance of the complex.

Food:

  • Most traditional ballpark fare is not available individually. Hot dogs can't be bought by themselves, you have to buy a "hot Dog Basket" with fries. This makes it difficult to eat economically, since I usually just get a hot dog and no fries.
  • Nothing really unique
  • Bottled water and soda was "cheap" in 2011- $3.
  • Buffalo Chicken sandwiches looked pretty good

 

 

 

Seating/Stadium Design:

  • Seating areas consist of dark green fold-down seats
  • Bleachers and berm area are also seating options
  • Very little, if any shaded areas in the seating bowl. Fans who need a break from the hot sun will need to venture into the concourse for a reprieve. The "roof" on the upper deck just consists of wooden slats that let the sun through.
  • Some of the lower level concession stands are in view of the field
  • ESPN Clubhouse Shop
  • Large HD Videoboard
  • Red tents over the right field wall which house the coaching staffs' cars are an eyesore.
  • During the game, Minor Leaguers were taking batting practice in the cages in centerfield. Fans can catch a glimpse of that from the berm area.

 

Atmosphere/Character:

Champion Stadium is located inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The ballpark has a seating capacity of 9,500, making it the 2nd largest in the Grapefruit League (Tampa is the largest). Despite it's large size, Champion Stadium surprisingly provides an intimate fan experience. One unique feature of the park are the large pennants in the berm area in left field. To me, these look so much better than regular billboards.

Before the game, fans can get up close to their favorite players. For a hefty price, fans can get about 10 feet closer to batting practice by the "On-Field Spectator Experience" provided. This doesn't seem worth it to me. You can see just fine from the stands.

Overall, Champion Stadium provides a nice, clean place to watch a baseball game. For me, the park was a little too "Disney-ified" for me. I felt like I was watching a Spring Training Game in the middle of Disney World. Oh wait....I was. Since the ballpark is not the only reason people would be coming to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, it's just too much of a production for me. When I was there, there were cheerleading competitions and such going on, so there were a lot of extra people there clogging things up. Signage to enter the ballpark is not very clear. There was a large gate with a turnstyle that clearly is labeled "Braves Fans"......then to your left is a small sign that says "Braves Media". We almost entered in the complex at the "Braves Fans" entrance, clearly thinking that's where we needed to be, despite the long line. But, then a staff member pointed us to the "Braves Media" entrance which took you directly into the park, which is I guess where all fans were supposed to enter. I don't think the other entrance allows you access to the park. Apparently, it was just for spectators and cheerleaders of other events that were going on at the complex. So, what's was the confusion with the signs??? So, apparently fans going to the game are considered "media"? That right there, was enough to set me off into feeling like I was at Disney World rather than a Spring Training ballpark. Come on, Braves, get your act together and post clear signs. If this park was not located inside ESPN Wide World of Sports, I would have given it 4 Stars or higher. When I come to Florida to watch Spring Training, it's because I want to be around baseball fans and stay away from the major crowded attractions that the Orlando area offers. I don't want to be mixed in to an amusement park (or whatever this complex is - which seems to be a mystery, since I can't really can't find a clear description of what someone would get for their $14.50 admission into the complex) that has a ballpark inside. Sorry, just not my cup of tea.

 

 

Overall Rating: 1/4

Review is based on my visit on 3/13/11.

 

amanda@baseballstadiumreviews.com