- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 27, 2010

The recent success of the Philadelphia Phillies also has brushed off on its spring training home in Clearwater, Fla.

Six-year-old Bright House Field is the third different spring training venue the Phils have had in this town just over the Courtney Campbell Causeway from Tampa. The connection between the team and town are strong, with the Phils being based in Clearwater since 1947 and drawing plenty of fans down from the Delaware Valley each spring.

And, with the Phillies coming off a World Series title two years ago and back-to-back National League crowns, one of the newer venues in the spring circuit has also become one of the most popular.

Bright House carries some touches of Philadelphia, offering up cheesesteaks in the concourse, as well as a replica of the Phillie Phanatic near the kids’ area down the third-base line. And, with the recent on-field success of the Phillies, many of the 8,500 seats are gobbled up in advance.

Tickets are available, but usually closer to game-time either the pricier club seats or standing room or berm fields are mostly what the last-minute crowd can expect.

Tampa is the epicenter of the Grapefruit League, with the Yankees, Phillies, Blue Jays all playing in the city and its environs, and the Tigers (Lakeland), Pirates (Bradenton) and Orioles (Sarasota) all training within an hour of the city.

But Bright House also features some of the modern features that fans expect. On this particular day, despite a torrential rain storm that drenched central Florida and wiped out nearly all the day’s games in the Grapefruit League, the notable exception was Bright House Field, as a state-of-the-art drainage system allowed the large crowd to take in some baseball despite having heavy rain for over two hours.

And the fans came out, packing the concourse despite the wet weather and waiting to catch the Phillies in action.

The park also features berm seating in the outfield, allowing fans to sit on the grass beyond the fence, but also having club seats and boxes above the seating bowl. Like a lot minor-league parks, it also features a play area, and offers a varied open concourse.

But with the long-standing tradition of the Phillies in Clearwater, Bright House offers a good blend of a modern ballpark with some of the touches of the tenant’s home city.

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If you go:

Nearby airports:

Tampa (20 miles east)

Local cities of interest:

Tampa

Bright House Field is located near State Route 60 in Clearwater, Fla.

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