Readers Choice

10Best Readers' ChoiceChosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best

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    #10 - Osceola County Stadium - Kissimmee, Fla.

    Come February and March, the Houston Astros head to Kissimmee to train at Osceola County Stadium -- a state-of-the-art Grapefruit League facility with seating for 5,300 and a fan-favorite "autograph alley" where aspiring players and lovers of America's pastime can interact with their favorite Astros players up close.

    Photo courtesy of Jtesla16

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    #9 - JetBlue Park - Fort Myers, Fla.

    JetBlue Park at Fenway South -- JetBlue Park for short -- in Fort Myers, hosts the Boston Red Sox during their spring season with the Grapefruit League. Opened in 2012, the stadium features the same dimensions as Fenway and a replica of the infamous Green Monster in left field. A wavy canopy provides shade for a majority of the 11,000 seats, and the many of the masonry blocks were made from crushed Florida seashells sourced from nearby Sanibel Island.  

    Photo courtesy of Boston Red Sox

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    #8 - Cubs Park - Mesa, Ariz.

    2014 marks the inaugural season for the Chicago Cubs at their new facility -- Cubs Park -- in Mesa, Ariz. With seating for 15,000, it's the largest and newest spring training facility in the nation. Designed with Wrigley Field in mind, the stadium features dark green light towers, brick walls circling the playing field and a press box similar to that at the Cubs home stadium.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Mesa

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    #7 - Tradition Field - Port St. Lucie, Fla.

    The spring training home of the New York Mets can be found in the community of Port St. Lucie, Fla. at Tradition Field. The 7,800-capactiy stadium also hosts the affiliate St. Lucie Mets and features a third base Tiki Bar, right field outdoor bar and grill and a scoreboard where fans can see high-definition highlights.

    Photo courtesy of

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    #6 - Ed Smith Stadium - Sarasota, Fla.

    Ed Smith Stadium -- nicknamed Birdland South -- has served as the Baltimore Oriioles' Grapefruit League home in Sarasota since 2010. After undergoing a $32.2 million renovation in 2011, the modern, Florida-inspired facility now features seats refurbished from Camden Yards, high-definition televisions throughout, a 2,000-square-foot gift shop, a 17-foot-tall high-definition LED video board, two concourses and seating for 8,500.

    Photo courtesy of WEBN-TV

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    #5 - Bright House Field - Clearwater, Fla.

    Ever since 1948, the Philadelphia Phillies have been warming up for baseball season in beachy Clearwater, Fla. Bright House Field, designed with classic Florida style, opened in 2004 and includes a 360-degree concourse looking down on the field, a children's play area, 7,300 fixed seats and room for another 1,500 in the grass berm area. When the Phillies aren't training, Bright House Field serves as the home of the Florida State League Clearwater Threshers.

    Photo courtesy of civilengtiger

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    #4 - McKechnie Field - Bradenton, Fla.

    Each spring, the Bradenton Marauders make way in McKechnie Field for the Pittsburgh Pirates to come train in the Grapefruit League. Named after Hall of Fame manager Bill McKechnie, the stadium -- the oldest spring training facility -- was upgraded in 2013 to include a 19,000-square-foot boardwalk along the outfield, new concessions, a large Fan Plaza and an expanded seating capacity of 8,500 fans.

    Photo courtesy of Bradenton Area CVB

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    #3 - Salt River Fields - Scottsdale, Ariz.

    Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale host two Major League teams for spring training, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. It's the first spring training facility to be built on Native American land, in partnership with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The stadium opened in 2011 -- designed by the same firm responsible for Camelback Ranch and Cowboys Stadium -- with seating for 11,000 fans.

    Photo courtesy of Dru Bloomfield

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    #2 - Goodyear Ballpark - Goodyear, Ariz.

    More than just a stadium, Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Ariz. comprises a mixed-use "ballpark village" with development complexes for both the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds. Visitors can come watch a morning workout, and stadium seating for 8,000 is beefed up with a 1,500-capacity berm and a 500-seat party deck.

    Photo courtesy of Goodyear Ballpark

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    #1 - Charlotte Sports Park - Port Charlotte, Fla.

    Located in Port Charlotte, Fla., Charlotte Sports park welcomes the Tampa Bay Rays each year for spring training. The facility underwent a $27 million renovation in 2009, and now Grapefruit League fans can enjoy a baseball boardwalk ringing the outfield, an entirely new luxury suite level, a tiki bar, children's play area and seating for 7,500, including seating in two outfield berms. Come opening day, the stadium becomes the home of the minor league Charlotte Stone Crabs.

    Photo courtesy of HappyHarvick2962

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Port Charlotte, Florida hits Home Run with Readers

Nearby Bradenton, Clearwater trail Arizona's Goodyear and Scottsdale

It was a hot contest category, but fans of the Tampa Bay Rays and southwest Florida have voted sunny Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida their favorite spring training destination in USA TODAY's 10Best Readers' Choice contest.     

Only 500 votes separated 2nd-place finisher Goodyear, Arizona from the top finisher.  Goodyear Ballpark patrons - many of them Ohio-based fans of the Indians and the Reds - voted like mad for their winter getaway spot in the greater Phoenix area.  

Scottsdale's beautiful new Salt River Fields landed in 3rd, while southwest Florida got a triple-play by taking 4th, 5th and 6th places. 

20 original nominees - all in Florida and Arizona - were selected by a panel of experts: the MLB writers from USA TODAY.   

The full list of winners in the 'Best Spring Training City' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice are as follows:

  1. Charlotte Sports Park - Port Charlotte, Fla.
  2. Goodyear Ballpark - Goodyear, Ariz.
  3. Salt River Fields - Scottsdale, Ariz.
  4. McKechnie Field - Bradenton, Fla.
  5. Bright House Field - Clearwater, Fla.
  6. Ed Smith Stadium - Sarasota, Fla.
  7. Tradition Field - Port St. Lucie, Fla.
  8. Cubs Park - Mesa, Ariz.
  9. JetBlue Park - Fort Myers, Fla.
  10. Osceola County Stadium - Kissimmee, Fla.

Congrats to all the winners, and thanks to the MLB fans who put them there.  And now . . . play ball! 

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The Experts

Bob Nightengale

Robert (Bob) Nightengale, a graduate of Arizona State University, has been covering baseball since 1986. He previously was a baseball beat writer covering the Kansas City Royals for the Kansas City Star, and the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers for the Los Angeles Times. He also was a columnist for the Sporting News. He joined USA TODAY in 1998.

Paul White

Paul White is a veteran newspaper writer and editor who covers baseball for USA TODAY Sports and has been involved in the launches of both USA TODAY and Baseball Weekly (now USA TODAY Sports Weekly). He joined the original USA TODAY staff several months before the national newspaper's September 1982 debut. White coordinated major changes in baseball coverage, including the innovative new boxscore that has become the standard for the industry. He has been covering baseball for 24 years including every World Series and All-Star Game over that time. White lives in Reston, Va.

Ted Berg

Ted Berg is an MLB writer for For The Win and USA TODAY Sports. He spends lots of time at baseball games for work but still spends practically every one of his vacations traveling to baseball games. When not sampling minor league concessions around the country, he lives in New York City with his wife.

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